Today, the vernal equinox for the Northern Hemisphere….Super moon and solar eclipse to boot! How weather and seasons determine our itinerary…

I took this photo a few minutes ago from our lanai. It’s been raining overnight and the waterfalls on the mountains are clearly visible. What a beautiful site!

Weather and seasons hold a tremendous significance for us in our world travels. Today, the first official day of spring is described as follows from the famous “Farmers Almanac” a reliable source of information used for the past over 200 years after its onset in 1792:

“Astronomically speaking, the March equinox occurs when the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north along the ecliptic.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the March equinox is known as the vernal, or spring, equinox, and marks the start of the spring season.

In the Southern Hemisphere, this equinox is known as the autumnal, or fall, equinox and marks the start of the fall season; the vernal equinox for the Southern Hemisphere occurs in September.
The March equinox happens at the same moment across the world, but is converted to local time. In 2015, it falls on March 20 at 6:45 P.M. EDT, 5:45 P.M. CDT, 4:45 P.M. MDT, and 3:45 P.M. PDT, for example.

Meteorologically speaking, however, in the Northern Hemisphere the official spring season always begins on March 1 and continues through May 31. Summer begins on June 1; autumn, September 1; and winter, December 1.

Weather scientists divide the year into quarters this way to make it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics from one year to the next. The meteorological seasons are based on annual temperature cycles rather than on the position of Earth in relation to the Sun, and they more closely follow the Gregorian calendar. Using the dates of the astronomical equinoxes and solstices for the seasons would present a statistical problem because these dates can vary slightly each year.”

On top of the vernal equinox is tonight’s super moon, as quoted from this website containing more information, EarthSky at this link:

“On March 20 – the same date as the 2015 March equinox – the moon turns new only 14 hours after reaching lunar perigee – moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit. Thus, this moon is a supermoon – at the new phase – not visible in our sky, but having a larger-than-average effect on Earth’s oceans. Plus, this new supermoon swings right in front of the equinox sun on March 20, so that the moon’s shadow falls on parts of Earth. Follow the links below to learn more.”

Total eclipse of the sun on November 11, 2012. Image via NASA
Eclipse photo courtesy of NASA.

As we peruse upcoming options for various gaps in our schedule, seasons and their weather patterns are a tremendous factor in where we decide to go. With our upcoming two years, most of which is currently scheduled, we’ve begun to contemplate how we’ll fill a 67-day gap from June 26 to September 1, 2016.

As we inch closer to this gap which seemed so long away just a short time ago, we begin to start reviewing our options. This is the gap between our two bookings in Bali, Indonesia for the house we wanted for four months total, in two increments of two months each, the maximum allowable time for a visa in that country.

This morning as the sun was attempting to peek out between the cloud cover.

Looking at a map as to where we could easily and quickly fly from Bali, there are numerous options at affordable fares. However, the weather is a factor. If we go back to Australia, we’d have to stay in the northern part of the continent to avoid the colder south with temperatures in the near-freezing range, not appealing to us.

As much as we’d like to return to New Zealand to the south island, the weather is definitely a consideration, when it tends to be cooler there most of the time based on its southern proximity. 

All of these factors weigh heavily as we contemplate our next bookings. Any suggestions from our readers would be greatly appreciated, keeping in mind wherever we go we’d like to stay in one property and, prefer warm weather. Feel free to email or post a comment or suggestion at the end of today’s post. 
Julie had the triple crab cake sandwiches on sweet Hawaiian bread.

Julie leaves tonight. We’ve so enjoyed the time together for the three of us and for she and I alone, sisters sharing great memories, private thoughts and hopes, and dreams, as sisters often do. I’m truly blessed to have my two sisters. As the one in the middle, Julie eight years younger than I, and Susan, four years older, we’ve always stayed in close touch and have been there for one another.

Yesterday, Julie and I had a delicious lunch at the Princeville Westin. This was my bacon burger which included a small side salad.

Tom and I will settle back into our easy pleasant lifestyle filled with social activities (more tomorrow night), sightseeing, visits to the club, and hanging out frequently with our dear friend Richard, our personal social director.

We still have many photos yet to share of my tours with Julie over these past eight days. Please check back for more.

Have a rewarding weekend beginning on this first day of spring.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, March 20, 2014:

We still laugh over our faux pas. On our way out to lunch, we approached the guard at this interesting building asking if we could look inside. The guards said, “No Madam, this is the palace of the king.” For details from this date, please click here.

Under the Tuscan Super Moon…”A Nightime Garden in Tuscany”…Cooking with herbs from the garden…

Aware that last night was the night of the full “Super Moon” we kept a watchful eye as the sun began to set behind the mountains. We hoped that redness in the sky would indicate a bit of warmth today, but its quite cool as it was yesterday was a sweater day.
We love photos of the moon, although my photo taking skills are limited.
Moments later, the clouds moving quickly.
Yesterday, a cool day, kept us indoors part of the day, with the veranda calling us to bundle up and partake of the beauty around us.  The brisk winds whipped around us as we huddled in our now “usual” spots overlooking the mountains and valleys of Tuscany. 
How quickly we forget the “chill” in Minnesota, finding ourselves whining about 55 degrees and a breeze!  We have been in relatively warm weather since last November, ranging from a low of 55 (Tuscany, yesterday) to a high of 105 (Dubai, a month ago), certainly nothing to complain about. 
Tom, dressed for warmth on the chilly day, still enjoyed lounging, time on the veranda. Can’t you tell by the smile on his face? When I packed that jogging suit, he said, “When will I ever wear that?” At least I got a few items right in my over-packing frenzy!
Although we never really get bored, with no Sunday Morning to watch, no news, no mindless drivel, all without a working TV, on chilly days we itch to get outside. With the poor Internet signal here and our MiFi not working, watching “free” online shows is sketchy. 
Using fresh herbs from the garden on our patio, we made Italian meatballs using the finest grass fed ground beef.
 Most TV series may be purchased on various sites which seem to work well for us with the Internet connection in the house. Prices range from $12.99 to $19.99 for a full season, certainly no more than renting a number of videos.
It was hard to believe that our hosts, Lisa and Luca had prepared this herb garden for our exclusive use while we’re here. 
Recently, at night we’d watched the entire 3rd season of Downton Abbey, one episode a night, and now we’re doing the same with the recent production of The Bible. Adapting to a different life than we knew.
Caring for and watering our herb garden is easy with this traditional Tuscan outdoor sink on the veranda.

With no air conditioning or fans in this house in Boveglio, we should be grateful for the cool nights. When we arrived over a week ago, it was in the high 80’s during the day, leaving us comfortable both day and night. The three foot stone walls of this solid house provide a definite cooling effect.

Last night after a fabulous dinner of homemade Italian meatballs made with herbs from our own garden on our patio, topped with Marinara sauce, stuffed with fresh, locally made mozzarella balls, topped with Provolone and Parmesan cheese, a side of fresh organic asparagus and a lofty salad, we felt a walk would be in order.

This window is above the stairwell that goes down to the basement where we wash clothes and access the main door.

As the sun started to set, as we anxiously awaited the appearance of the “Super Moon,” we walked up and down the various areas of the expansive yard with more growing gardens at our disposal. 

Tom suggested we take this shot again.  The last one we posted was unreadable due to the glare of the sun during the day.

A few special areas caught our eye. Although it was almost dark, we delighted in taking these nighttime shots of what we termed, “A Nighttime Garden in Tuscany.”

Learning to take photos has been a daunting task for me. When we acquired our new camera in April, we’d decided not to take the time to edit any of the photos. 

More herbs for our pleasure in the enormous backyard.

If a photo appears blurry from my lack of experience and unsteady hand, it is tossed into the recycle bin. Otherwise, you see them all here, some good, some not so good and some, often to my surprise, quite good.

Is this perhaps an old fashioned “courting bench?”  I wonder what stories this could tell.

Continuing to experiment with the zillions of settings on the camera, I’ve yet to find the perfect combination but continue to try. It astounds me that I do continue to try since I’m the sort who, if not naturally good at something, can easily move on to something else. Photo taking doesn’t come naturally for me.

Soon, these cherries will be ripe.  Due to my restrictive diet I can’t eat any fruit, but my eyes behold their beauty with great admiration.
Is this a pear tree?  Pears didn’t grow in Minnesota from my recollection.  We’ll verify our finds next time Lisa or her mother tend the gardens. 
With no cookbooks with me, I’ll be researching online for new recipes to make use of the wide array or herbs growing everywhere. 
Years ago, I was obsessed with Vinca Vines, growing this variegated leaf plant everywhere, including indoors where surprisingly, when watered frequently, they did quite well during the Minnesota winters. To see them here brought a warm feeling for my sister Julie, who shared my passion for Vinca Vines.
Anyone recognize these flowers?  Please comment if so.
Even a vine wrapping around a branch held special interest for us last night in the dark.
Sorry.  This is the second showing of these precious flowers by our mailbox. Gee, can we get mail here?  Supplies would be in order to take to Africa where we think we can’t get mail.
After taking photos on the grounds, we found our way to our usual spot on the veranda, awaiting the appearance of the “Super Moon.” As we sat down, we were disappointed when we didn’t see the moon in the same spot as the previous night.  

With many clouds in the sky, it didn’t appear to be enough to obstruct its view. Waiting patiently, chatting away, we squealed when suddenly it appeared to our left, big, bold and bright. Having yet to learn all the proper settings for moonlight, we winged it getting these, although not as clear and bright as we’d have liked, leaving us with a reminder of this special night for us in Boveglio, Lucca, Tuscany.
 Sooner or later, I’ll get it right.
Actually, so far, every night has been special in Tuscany. 
 Ugh, is that a plane, a bug or an alien spaceship?  Note the double exposure of the moon toward the center.  Bear with me.  I’m working on it.