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Poor Will's Almanack: August 27 - September 2, 2019

Ohio Sea Grant
Flickr Creative Commons

In his natural history of east-central Ohio, Idle Weeds, David Rains Wallace writes: “If time is a story, the present is merely a hiatus between the significant events that were and will be.

"If time is an ocean, however, the present is not less important than other moments, which stretch away on all sides, any more than a single water molecule in an ocean is less important than the others.”

I like this impression of time, especially as summer wanes. The changes in the leaves and flowers, the increasing insect calls and the weakening of birdsong leave no doubt that autumn lies ahead and there is no going back.

Wallace’s vision removes the borders and relative importance of events and allows my mind to go beyond what seems closed and terminal. The image of time as an ocean of objects and acts liberates me from a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Chapters of such a traditional narrative fall out of sequence, the plot line is cut, and life’s linear prose becomes an elusive stream of consciousness.

If the month ahead belongs to a great tide, it erases the contours of youth and age, good and bad, loss and gain. My personae, the people who I think I am, are washed away. My shape is free, and I drift with flocking starlings and fields of goldenrod and rasping katydids into a September Sea.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the fifth week of Late Summer. In the meantime, think about it. What if time … and you…. are really an ocean and not a story?

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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.