Well, it’s the autumnal equinox….

…and I still can’t seem to balance an egg. What, you mean you’re not acquainted with the myth that you can balance an uncooked egg straight up on a table top on the equinox? Maybe it’s just the monotony of the cooking life, but this was big stuff in every kitchen I ever worked in. Every equinox some member of the kitchen or wait staff would emerge from the walk-in with an egg and announce their intention to balance it — and everyone would collect around to watch.

If you don’t know what this is about, I’ll summarize. For the vast majority of the calendar year, the Earth’s axis (the imaginary line between the North and South Poles) points either slightly toward, or slightly away from, the sun — like a slightly wobbly top going around a basketball. This action causes the seasons, and results in our days and nights being of slightly different durations.

Twice a year the Earth’s axis points straight “up” (for lack of a better descriptor), these are the equinoxes. Day and night are equal (the world literally means “equal night”), and so the thinking goes, special rules of gravity apply. It’s all complete bunk of course, though that doesn’t stop people from perpetuating the myth that an uncooked egg will stand up straight if it is positioned just right.

Why an egg? I don’t think anyone really knows, save for the fact that eggs are fertility symbols associated with of course Easter and the vernal (spring) equinox. Maybe with all the hoopla around eggs in the springtime, the notion of eggs as special gravitational sensing devices was created. In any event, eggs are difficult though not impossible to balance (especially with the help of a little pinch of salt on the table), but no less so on the equinox than on any other day of the year.

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