Urban man is the only creature on earth that cares what “time” it is. The Bushmen who still follow the old hunting traditions know that a hunt, which may last more than a day, will take as long as it takes.
A farmer following a more traditional planting and harvesting cycle knows that work that needs to be done will take as long as it needs to take and happen when it needs to happen. When the time is right to plow and plant that’s what you do and you do it until you’re done. When it’s time to harvest and process the crop you harvest and process the crop until you’re done. If you work from first light to last light that’s what you do. They know that the only control they have over the process is pushing the started on the machine. Nature is still in the driver’s seat, at least part of the time.
American clock watchers on the other hand go so far as to try and trick themselves in the summer. Instead of just getting up at seven during the summer we reprogram our clocks so that we can pretend we’re still getting up at eight instead.
Birds don’t watch clocks. Their songs follow the sunlight no matter when it appears. There is a magic moment when the sky goes from black to an edge of gray. Then the first tentative shadows of song begin. Chickadees, song sparrows, wrens, jays and crows each one sings their song as the sky gets brighter. The birds and their songs are so intertwined that it’s as if one moment they aren’t birds and then next moment as the song begins they become birds on this new day. By the time the sun appears over the horizon the dawn chorus is ending and it’s time for breakfast.
The chorus isn’t as loud on these darker days, it’s been too darn cold. The cast changes but there are still birds flitting from dogwood to rhodie to feeders and back as the day lightens. On days when we’re really lucky there’s a bit of sunshine to brighten the day.
I really like the old Irish calendar this time of year. By the old calendar winter began November first. That means next week when we have the solstice it’ll be midwinter and spring starts in med February with Imbolc. I’m ready now, thank you very much.