A few weeks ago Papi told me that the Geese are back from the south, and that meant winter is over. I was fascinated by this and spoke with Mama about it later. She concurred- “Yes, this is very early, usually they return later in February. And the Storks, remember they migrated late last year? So we knew we would have a longer summer.” So while our calendar shows that we still have 7 more weeks of winter, the Geese seem to think otherwise.
Mama and Papa know about these things because they’ve lived in this region their entire lives and know its cycles like the back of their hands. As someone who has lived in various cities for the majority of the past 10 years, I rely on paper calendars to tell me when seasons end and when it’s time for me to blow out the candles on a cake. (Fortunately as a woman I already have a nifty internal count for months.) In general society seems to place less importance on cycles in favour of a constructed notion of linearity (perhaps to perpetuate the myth of progress). But not everyone operates this way. For example many cultures across Africa count their birthday based on how many rains (rainy seasons) they’ve welcomed. In a world where the concept of seasons or time is dependent upon place and culture, perhaps it makes more sense to measure cycles with tools and terms that make reference to our locale. The current universal calendar based on the earth’s movements in our solar system has its value, but there’s no reason why there can’t also be local calendars that allow for these variations.
This may be more difficult in urban areas? It’s harder to see the subtle changes of the sun’s path in the sky when there are buildings in the way, or the increase in the chirps from birds when there’s a multitude of aural distractions. I wonder, how will cities adapt to become more sustainable if they are designed in such a way that we can no longer read the signals emanating from the very systems that sustain us?