Nature
8:40 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Poor Will's Almanack: October 2 - 8, 2012

Poor Will's Almanack for the fourth week of Early Fall

Since I started my record of the weather and natural history, I have my kept notes together for each day of the year -for example, all the October 2nds from 1979 through 2012 in one place. With that organization, I've been able to see how, in spite of the separate character of each 12-month cycle, and the possible changes in the climate, 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 10 or 20 years later.

After my father died decades ago, 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 distant than his middle age or dying. Taken off the track of horizontal time, his complete life became more accessible.

For so long, I concentrated on growth, and on the leaving behind, and the progress toward, as if that process would culminate in something other than its specific decisions and actions. Time was a series of independent steps on top of and away from what I had done before. Instead of living on the spinning earth, I was riding a meteor into space, never passing the same place twice.

With the lessons from the daybook, I go back and I look at my life; the crises of the years have gone by like so many storms in the weather record. It seems I'm like the woods, the same for all the changes.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Middle Fall. In the meantime, forget lineal time and progress; relive the days.

Related program: