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 2019 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 March 6th, 2019, and continues for 13 moons, through the moon cycle ending on March 23rd, 2020.
And each calendar page starts with the new moon, not the month. The dates are close, but not quite the same.
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 non-traditional 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 13 moons in this calendar, so you get a bonus month, yay).
You flip each page with the new moon, which is a few days off from the beginning of each month. They’re close, but not the same.
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.
Since this calendar is meant to track the seasonal changes in North America, I talked to three Native American elders about their traditional names for the moons, and researched more from tribes I didn’t have direct access to.
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 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 the “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 ways to help you experience nature a little bit more. 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…
On the first moon of each season, there is a guide to what produce is in season for each of five regions in the USA.
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 transit of Mercury in 2019.
Handy info boxes explain what each one is (what is a transit of Mercury?) or some interesting facts about it.
There are 9 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.
13 gorgeous photos for 13 exciting months!
Fun and easy ideas for enriching your experience with nature.
These are especially aimed at those who have little experience around nature—and doable in a city—although they are meant to be interesting enough that anyone can benefit, even if nature is old hat for you.
Activity ideas provide gentle suggestions of ways to enhance your connection with nature. Pick and choose the ones that appeal to 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. Here’s one I love that didn’t make it into the calendar (too long):
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein
Interesting facts about the animals, plants, and other natural patterns that inspired the Native American names of the moons.
To experience your world in whole new ways?
(…which are also the oldest ways in history?)
The calendar also includes easy explanations on how to use this unusual format, as well as bonus info like:
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 start to pay attention to where the Moon is in its cycle
Know where you are in the year by following Earth’s orbit around the Sun!
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 what seasonal produce to expect to eat your way around the year
Nature activity ideas offer gentle invitations to new experiences
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 © Nature Time Calendar
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