We were talking about how we each measure the year.
A client in the water industry said he marked his own internal calendar through his company’s financial year then the five-year asset management programme for water companies – referred to simply as AMP. Which means he may be thinking about a project scheduled for May 2028 while many of us can only focus on the here and now.
For me, the metronome of time is clocked through diverse milestones, encompassing a journey over time, space and the metaphysical.
Seasons to be cheerful
First, the beautiful seasons – winter (bone-achingly too long!), spring (snowdrops, followed by the yellow lesser celandine flowers, then daffodils…), summer (too short!) and autumn (too short again!).
Then the calendar months January to December and the precious weeks and days in between – even Mondays.
Followed by the celestial – winter solstice and summer solstice. Both occasions are marked in our family, a nod to the rhythms of our planet as it orbits the Sun in a slow-motion gravitation ballet dance over 365 days.
Light side of the moon
Or the evocatively named lunar cycles such as the Full Wolf Moon (January 17th 2022), Full Snow Moon (February 16th 2022) and Full Pink Moon (April 16th 2022).
Not forgetting Deep South Media’s financial year, starting March 1st, or our fortnightly team meetings on a Tuesday.
Or writing reports that relate to calendar-year quarters, Q1 (January to March), Q2 (April to June), Q3 (July to September), Q4 (October to December).
Having been through university, I still overlap time with the academic year as well, which starts with Freshers Week in the third week of September and typically ends in the third week of June, just as the long glorious days start drawing in…
That higher education timetable is reinforced through my two eldest children, a postgraduate and an undergraduate respectively.
If the above wasn’t enough to think about, my house, with three children, was ruled over three decades by the unyielding schedule set by primary, secondary and sixth-form schools, with 8.30am drop-offs and 3.30pm pick-ups. Half terms! Loved them! Rest time!
Lent on time
We also factor in state-engrained religious festivities, from Easter (a moveable calendar feast, depending on the cycle of the moon – Good Friday is 15th April in 2022 compared to 2nd April this year) to Christmas. Lent is part of the measurement of time – next year it is 2nd March to 14th April, should you seek a second chance to give something up after the failure of new year resolutions.
And other bank holidays.
Having played competitive water polo for 25 years, the season is generally from March to August, which is why I always had to get match fit in winter and spring. Aged 54, my body still nudges me to respect this cycle.
Talking of sport, the Tour de France is another calendar milestone – it marks the start of real summer for me (26th June 2021, and the 108th edition of this extraordinary race of high drama and human endurance).
There is also the start of the professional football season (21st August this year), along with the Six Nations Rugby kick-off (25th February 2022). And The Grand National (9th April 2022, and marking the start of spring for me), the greatest steeplechase in the world, replete with history, derring-do, fate and bitterly cold winds.
My first kiss to the woman I love, Jenny, was on (hang on, best keep that a secret…). We always celebrate that most special of dates, 35 years ago, more than we do our wedding anniversary (hang on, best keep that date a secret too). Yup, the kids feign grossness with that first one (but are actually delighted – their smiling eyes a giveaway).
Time and tide
Family birthdays, too, mark the passage of time, as do the candles lit in memories of late loved ones who walk in the sunny uplands away from our existence.
There is the gardening growing cycle to consider too, as if all of the above isn’t enough. Never cast a clout until May is out – given that we’ve just had the coldest April since 1922, this is wise advice. Of course, the start of May (May Day) is only seven weeks from the summer solstice. Which means winter is not far behind. Again.
Tide, too, is a clock. For me, when I summered for many years at Horton beach on the Gower Coast in South Wales, the tide times were inexorably etched in my mind. The tides ruled my days of exploration of cliffs and rock pools, snorkeling, swimming and fishing with my dad.
Tears of St Lawrence
It is the same magical place where the universe always told me the date without me ever having to check out a newspaper or diary – the burning Tears of St Lawrence (the Perseids meteor shower) would fall in the third week of August, leaving me breathless with the cosmic wonder of it all before school got in the way of my education a few days later.
Given all of the above, the year planner in my mind is bursting – and happily so.
Time. Hold on it any way you can, count it any way you can.
But never turn your back on it.