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Poor Will's Almanack: July 21 - 27, 2020

Whit Andrews
Flickr Creative Commons

In his essay, “The Temporality of the Landscape,” archeologist Tim Ingold states that “Ecosystems contain as many ‘times’ as they do objects, processes, or creatures, probably more.”

Here in the middle of Deep Summer, the volume and variety of birdsong cedes  to the symphony of amphibian and insect song. These time keepers and their times and timing literally transform the rhythm and tone of the audible world.

Beginning with the lullaby of spring peepers in March and April, progressing through the shrill pleasure-seeking mating cries of of the American toad, to the bass of the bullfrogs and the bark of the green frogs in May, the soft, sweet chirping of the spring field crickets, and the high rattle of the tree crickets and the purr of the tree frogs in Early Summer, now to the whining buzz of cicadas and the katy-did-dids of the katydids, to the steady beat of the chirps of the autumn field crickets, to the strong and piercing whistles of the whistling crickets, the year pronounces a clear and insistent narrative that not only creates natural time, but weaves stories, which are thousands of years old, through tempo and phrasing and pitch.

“Every story is a clock,” states philosopher of time, Paul Huebbener. One could add that every time keeper tells a story.  And “What is the story and the setting and the plot?” one might ask, and “What is the time?”.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the sixth week of Deep Summer.  In the meantime, if you really need to know the time,  Just ask the cicadas in the heat of the afternoon, or the katydids in the night.

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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.