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Poor Will's Almanack: April 17 - 23, 2018

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Christian Reichert
Flickr Creative Commons

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, in his book, A Secular Age, as "Higher Time" (as opposed to linear, “Secular Time”).

In Secular Time, things happen in sequence, and the past always recedes like an expanding universe, and when something is past, it's past. Higher Time, on the other hand dramatizes cycles like those represented in religious liturgical calendars 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 as well as omissions showing the selective power of emotion and insight over linear statistics.

To withdraw from Secular Time is to come home to a centered and edited self in which experiences are sifted and sorted, 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.

That, of course, can be a good thing or a bad thing. Given certain negative events in the past, we may welcome the distance and erasures, the forgetting that linear time can bring. But perhaps, too, in circular time, we can be forced to come to terms with what we wish to avoid, and then hopefully, in honesty, honor and absorb its place without allowing it to haunt us.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the transition week to Late Spring. In the meantime. Let your mind accept circular time. Let it wander and filter and be at peace.

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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.