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Poor Will's Almanack: July 22 - 28, 2014

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Since I started my record of the weather and natural history, I have kept all my notes daily notes together - for example, all the July 20ths from 1979 through 2014 in one place. With that organization, I've been able to see how, in spite of the separate character of each 12-month cycle, the progress of the seasons remains nearly identical from one year to the next.

That arrangement of observations also makes clear the replicable nature of the days themselves instead of their linear succession away from one another. In my daybook, the notes from one afternoon are often interchangeable with those of another afternoon, the same day 24 or 36 or 288 months later.

After my father died, I began to look at time in a different way. Dad was no longer physically aging, no longer becoming more remote. Instead, with his death, all the phases and periods of his life took on the same distance from me. His childhood seemed no more remote than his middle age or dying. Taken off the track of horizontal or linear time, his complete life became more accessible.

For so long, I concentrated on growth, and on the leaving behind, and the progress toward something, as if that process would culminate in happiness or success or peace. Time was a series of independent steps on top of and away from what I had done before. Instead of just living on the spinning earth, content with the repeating seasons, I was riding a meteor into space, never passing the same place twice.

With the lessons from my notes and from images of my father, I go back and see that the crises of the years have gone by like so many storms in the weather record, like just so many images of flowering and decay. In the end, I'm like the woods and fields and the sky, the same in spite of all the cycles and the changes.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the sixth week of middle summer. In the meantime, try stepping off the track of linear time.

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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.