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Poor Will's Almanack: April 3 - 9, 2012

Flickr Creative Commons user Martin LeBar
Redbud blooms

Poor Will’s Almanack for the Second week of Middle Spring.

Keeping a notebook of what happens every day in the small world around me, I often think about the cyclical quality of events in nature.The repeating quality of the sky and the landscape, is something similar to what sociologist Charles Taylor describes as "Higher Time" in his study of the rise of humanism, A Secular Age. Taylor draws a distinction between Secular (or sequential) Time and what he calls Higher Time.

In Secular Time, says Taylor, "one thing happens after another, and when something is past, it's past." Higher Time, on the other hand dramatizes cycles like those represented in the Christian liturgical calendar or in the repeating nature of the year. And even though the modern world seems to do business completely in Secular Time, the alternate viewpoint persists and may even be dominant inside memory.

Memory Time is always Higher Time. Not only does memory retain a whole impression of experience, but it also blends, erases, and re-sequences pieces of the past, allowing the feasts of birth and death, love and disappointment to return, mellow or fester, winnowed to their core.

So too with observation of the natural year, the repetition of the seasons within the mind mixes and combines the years, unifies them, reevaluates them, distortions showing the selective power of emotion and insight over linear statistics.

To withdraw from Secular Time is to come home to a centered self where experiences are sifted and unified and made whole to return again. Like a book of days, the mind recollects choices and destinies, showing and combining in the radii of its vortex the higher shadows and auras of repeating suns.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of middle spring. In the meantime, look for redbud and crab apple trees to come into bloom.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.