Nothing about this calendar is normal.
Okay, one thing is normal, it has dates. And it marks time. That’s two things.
But it doesn’t start in January, pages don’t correspond with months, and it has no holidays (except Earth Day, duh, it’s a nature calendar).
Yet it has a lot that other calendars miss. Like, any connection at all with a physical experience of time.
In days gone by, people marked time with the natural cycles around them that they knew and could predict. To quote Fiddler on the Roof: (sing it with me) “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the years…” Now, we fill in neatly aligned boxes in rectangles.
The calendar we all know and use is called the Gregorian calendar, which divides the exact length of Earth’s orbit around the Sun into 12 mathematically equal portions (to the nearest full day), with leap years thrown in to keep it from drifting by 0.25 days each year. It is all very precise, very efficient, and very practical in many ways.
Yet the way we have come to use it in the modern world lacks any reference to what is going on in the natural world. Today, the most common associations on the internet with the word “season” are about the NBA and March Madness.
By all means, enjoy the holidays, and sports, and the 2020 calendar you already have.
Think of this as an enhancement to your regular calendar.
And don’t worry, it has all the dates, days of the week, and months that you’re used to, it just presents them differently.
The only reason our calendar starts on January 1st is because that was when Roman consuls entered office during the days of the Republic.
But the beginning of the natural year is in spring.
So this calendar begins with the first new moon in spring, on February 23rd, 2020, and tracks close to 14 months, through the moon cycle ending April 10th, 2021.
From spring equinox to spring equinox.
And each calendar page starts with the new moon. So when you turn the page each month, it will remind you to tune in to the moon cycles.
I made the dates going counter-clockwise for two reasons. First, because I wanted it to be different enough to break my own mental habits of reading left to right, writing left to right, so many things go left to right—I wanted this to jolt me a bit so I would have a chance of not falling into the trap of assuming that I already know what is going on, so I will pay more attention to the signals in nature that are speaking to me in other traditional, non-modern ways.
The second reason is to follow the visual path of the moon throughout a moon/month. Although the moon (and sun and stars) travel across the sky in an east to west (left to right, when looking upwards) visual direction over the course of one day and night, they all slowly progress from west to east over the month, starting out a little farther to the east every day. Since the calendar is tracking a progression of days, the moon will start out a bit more to the left with each day that passes, hence counter-clockwise.
In days of yore, people tracked the year by watching the moon. Personally. I mean, most individuals would look up at the night sky regularly to tell how far along the month was by what the moon looked like.
And a month was one cycle of the moon. That’s why we have 12 months, by the way, because more-or-less twelve moon cycles pass before the seasons start repeating themselves.
This calendar follows the path of the moon through those 12 cycles (well, there’s actually 14 moons in this calendar, just because of the way dates fall, so you get two bonus months, yay). You flip each page with the new moon.
Along with the calendar itself—on the top half of the page—the bottom page is full of features that make this calendar special.
Each page is unique, displaying colors and designs that complement the photograph above it, while still retaining consistent elements you will recognize.
In the good ol’ days, people watching those moon cycles would name moons by what usually happened at that time of year. Many Anglo Saxon names are still familiar to us today, such as Harvest Moon, Lenten Moon, and Easter Moon. By the way, this is how bunnies became associated with Easter, because their new litters were born around that time and everybody knew it.
In including several traditional Native American moon names each month, I hope to both pay respect to the wisdom of those who lived in harmony with the land for so long, and honor their wisdom by using it to learn about the land they cherish.
Their names for the moons provide insight into what happens every year in different parts of the country. The calendar starts with the moon cycle in late February and early March, whose names include Awakening Moon, Whispering Wind Moon, Maple Sugar Moon—did you know that squirrels also make maple sugar?—and Snow Blind Moon—because the sun is getting higher and reflects off the last of the snow, blinding people.
Of course, each tribe is given credit for the names from their traditions.
There is no official governing body charged with regulating which are “real” moon names. Naming the moons has been common to cultures and traditions throughout the world for the very practical reason that it was useful in marking what was important to them at that time of year. The same can apply to you and me today.
So there is space in each month for you to name the moon based on what is happening then in your local area. I hope this simple act will enhance your connection with the outside world with a gentle reminder to notice the changes that make this bit of year different from the last bit.
This isn’t just a calendar with a different format.
It’s chock full of opportunities to experience nature in different ways. Some of them will speak to you more than others, and you’re bound to get something new and interesting out of it.
Check out what else is included…
Two full pages display produce that is in season for each of five regions in the USA. Easy to cut out and put wherever you do meal planning.
Produce that’s in season doesn’t have to travel as far, so it is fresher, tastes better, and keeps longer. The abundance means it costs less, and the decreased shipping means fewer fossil fuels are being burned. So all in all, eating produce in season is a win-win-win-win-win proposition.
With this handy guide, you’ll know what produce to expect for easier (and cheaper) meal planning.
Each moon has a (pretty close to) scale diagram of the Earth in it’s orbit around the Sun, so you can see its progression month by month, marked at the new moon.
I have no idea how that is in any way useful, I just thought it was cool. (And was danged difficult to figure out.)
Meteor showers, eclipses and equinoxes, oh my! There’s even a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 2020.
Handy info boxes explain what each one is (what is a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn?) or some interesting facts about it.
There are 10 meteor showers this calendar year that will be visible from North America. Now you’ll see them coming up and can plan an outing to get away from the city lights for a few hours to see these celestial spectacles yourself!
Of course the calendar has to have great photos! All the photos on this site are part of this year’s calendar.
14 gorgeous photos for 14 exciting moon cycles!
Each moon features a different constellation with easy instructions to locate it in the night sky.
No stargazing experience is required: start with the Big Dipper, Ursa Major, and the North Star, and gain another constellation each moon. Each moon builds on the last, so that by the end of the year you will have a map of every season of the night sky.
No need to schedule around a single night to catch the event: constellations are visible for 3 to 4 months at a time, so plan an occasional night of stargazing whenever it works for you.
Sometimes the words of others can evoke feelings in us or capture an experience in a very powerful way. Enjoy these beautiful and wise quotes about nature.
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity…and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” – William Blake
Interesting facts about the animals, plants, and other natural patterns that inspired the Native American names of the moons.
Impress your friends, learn things you’ve always wondered about, and be amazed at the intricacies of the world around us.
Plus, each one includes a link to a fascinating video that relates to the nature fact for that moon cycle.
There is a wide variety of videos, all of them awesome in their own way, selected to add a little more depth to each topic.
Reflection questions offer gentle invitations to meditate on the changes that each part of the year brings, both in the world around you and in your life.
To experience your world in whole new ways?
(…which are also the oldest ways in history?)
This is the second year of this calendar.
Because my curiosity keeps leading me to new things:
Week after week of boring squares and rectangles, lined up like good little soldiers, marching to the drum beat of distant, bureaucratic orders with no relief in sight.
Any civic or religious holidays (except Earth Day, duh, it’s a nature calendar).
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By turning pages with the new moons instead of months, you will naturally pay attention to where the Moon is in its cycle
Know what seasonal produce to expect, to eat your way around the year
Gain insight into the seasons from the Native American names for the moons
Name the moons yourself as a way to notice how each bit of the year is different from the last bit
Be a backyard astronomer with this viewing guide
Know where you are in the year by following Earth’s orbit around the Sun!
Find a new constellation every moon cycle
Start your New Year in spring, the beginning of the natural year!
Have questions or comments about the calendar?
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Copyright 2019-2020 © Nature Time Calendar
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