Tales from the Northern Forests

followed by 'The Shadows of Time'  >>

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
Showery, Flowery, Bowery,
Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,
Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy

The Twelve Months by George Ellis
In the Northern Forests plants and animals, including humans,
have to change their way of life with the seasons, which makes for
a harmonious, deeply connected, and immensely varied life.

Winter  >>

When frost and snow come both together,
sit by the fire and spare shoe leather.

Men judge by the complexion of the sky the state
and inclination of the day.

Richard II in William Shakespeare's play of the same name

Evening red and morning grey
will set the traveller on his way;
but evening grey and morning red
will bring down rain upon his head.

Folklore saying

Spring  >>

No matter how long the Winter,
Spring is sure to follow.

She was walking towards the church. It was early April. The sun had shone all day. The church, like so many churches in English villages, was surrounded by its graveyard. On both sides of the gate two big yews greeted her.
It wouldn't be long before the bleating of sheep and their new-born lamb would greet her here as well but not today. Today she walked in silence past the yews, past the church to the back. There he was. Standing a bit crooked after the many springs and summers he had already seen pass, covered in a blanket of white blossoms, like a delicate wedding veil. She walked underneath the old, old apple-tree.

As a young girl she had once visited a farm with her parents. She remembered the sheep stables like it was yesterday but she also remembered the apple orchard. Like now it had been in full blossom and she had danced underneath the trees and their blossom. All through the fifty years that followed she had never forgotten that moment - that joy. John Keats' poem sprang to mind:
A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
its loveliness increases; it will never
pass into nothingness; but still will keep
a bower quiet for us, and a sleep
full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Now, so many years later, she stood once more under an apple-tree in full blossom. She stared up at the thousands and thousands of round white flowers that carried the promise of the fruit to come. The last of the sunrays softly lightened up the blossom. An intense joy welled up from deep within her; almost too huge too overwhelming. For an instant she felt the two moments melting together. Then and now: it was all the same. Time was no more but then the moment passed.

Summer  >>

In Summer, the song sings itself.

Completely surrounded by the sea high mountains fringed the coastlines and below the wooded slopes lay deep valleys, fertile plains and marshy bogs.
Sheep and their lamb wandered through the mountains. Cows grazed on the plains and bees hummed among the heather in the bogs. The rivers were full of fish and the woods rang loud with birdsong. The weather was comfortable. Not too hot in summer nor too cold in winter so crops grew abundantly. The land provided every need: milk, honey, salmon, grains to eat and room to live. That's how it was on the isle called Ireland in times past.

Autumn  >>

Autumn... the year's last loveliest smile.

Across the evening sky all the birds are leaving.
But how can they know it's time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of Time.

For who knows where the Time goes?
Who knows where the Time goes?

Sad deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving.
Ah, but then you know it's Time for them to go.
But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving.
I do not count the Time.

For who knows where the Time goes?
Who knows where the Time goes?

And I am not alone while my love is near me.
I know it will be so until it's Time to go.
So come the storms of Winter and then the birds in Spring again.
I have no fear of Time.

For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the Time goes?

Written and sung by Sandy Denny (1967)

The Shadows of Time

Time is but a Shadow

No physicist now believes in absolute time; the idea of time as linear and unstoppable also referred to as the arrow of time. Still humanity has established a collective timescale, dictated by the a choir of atomic clocks in vaults at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures near Paris and elsewhere. This International Atomic Time lets the trains run on time, ensures football games start on time and that work doesn't start late or finishes early.
"It's all embedded, the hours and minutes, words and numbers everywhere, he said, train stations, bus routes, taxi meters, surveillance cameras. It's all about time, dimwit time, inferior time, people checking watches and other devices, other reminders. This is time draining out of our lives. Cities were built to measure time, to remove time from nature. There's an endless counting down, he said. When you strip away surfaces, when you see into it, what's left is terror. This is the thing that literature was meant to cure. The epic poem, the bedtime story."
Don Dellillo in Point Omega pp. 44-45, 2010

Book of Tales' Bedtime Stories  >>

The last two centuries we have spent battling time - running for the train, the bus, an appointment, the next appointment and so on.
The Ancients looked for the heavens to measure time but now machinery has taking over the reckoning. Time once flowing and gentle now dominates our lives in ways the first clockmakers would have surely found unbearable. We believe that time is running away from us. But the strangest thing is this: if they were able, the earliest clockmakers would tell us that the pendulum swings at the same rate as it always has.

The passage of time, so dreadfully feared for things not done and things lost, extinguishes without mercy the present day while bringing the unknown future closer and closer.
after all,
the present is always drifting back into the past,
just as the future drifts back to the present.

Michael O'Leary in his book 'Sussex Folk Tales', 2013
Time is a measure of continuity, of continuous unfolding and what unfolds is the Now. The continuity of Now is forever. Now is Eternity. The Light of Eternal Life shines on Now. Both past and future are nothing more than shadows casted by the Now. Now is a thin place; all too easy to step out of into the Shadows of Time ...

Take time while time lasts.
All time is no time when time is past.

What is this life if, full of care
we have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
and stare as long as sheep and cows;

No time to see, when woods we pass
where squirrels hide their nuts in grass;

No time to see, in broad daylight
streams full of stars, like skies at night;

No time to turn at Beauty's glance
and watch her feet, how they can dance;

No time to wait till her mouth can
enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this is if, full of care
we have no time to stand and stare.
W.H. Davies, Leisure

To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour.

William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

O hour of all hours, the most bless'd upon earth,
the blessed hour of our dinners.

Lord Lytton

A watched pot never boils.
Well-known proverb
Time feels longer when you're waiting for something to happen.

Teatime >>

Everything has its hour.
There is a time for every thing under the heaven.

There is a time for birth and a time for death
a time for growth and a time for harvest

a time for cures and a time for killing
a time for building and a time for demolition

a time for tears and a time for laughs
a time for wakes and a time for dances

a time for interspersion and a time for grouping
a time for eschewal and a time for embracement

a time for searches and a time for abandonment
a time for keeping and a time for disposal

a time for cuts and a time for mends
a time for silence and a time for talk

a time for love and a time for hate
a time for war and a time for peace.

Of all the things the Almighty gave mankind to occupy
and burden them
every thing is good at its time.

Based on The Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Food for Thought

Did you have time to think today?
The unexamined life is not worth living.

A Timekeeper's Old Hat  >>

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© Brigitte Franssen 2018
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