On Saving Daylight

Welcome to Daylight Savings Time – again. Why we continue to torture ourselves with this semiannual self-imposed time disruption is beyond me. Today’s Washington Post includes a piece on this annual ritual that refers to it as “a glitch in the matrix that reminds us that clock time is always artificial and arbitrary”. I’m using it as a reason to share with you a passage from my second novel, Shadow of the Hare, in which protagonist Malia Poole reflects on the relativity of our experiencing of time.

When I first arrived in Walden 27, I still felt the need to know the exact time of day or night and I positioned my little digital clock on my table like some deity in a shrine. I learned that Walden 27 was positioned at the far western extreme of the Eastern Time zone. There were only two North American time zones by this time; I remembered having read that, before the original four time zones were established for the convenience of railways in the 19th century, every town kept its own time, keyed to its own experience of the sun’s movements. I came to realize that time zones and clocks meant little to the community of Walden 27.

As my stay extended into weeks and then months, I, too, stopped keeping track of time. It’s all relative anyway, I told myself. We mark our distance from some event in the past or from some planned, imagined future, organizing our activities within the diurnal/nocturnal cycle, across the flow of seasons. In Walden 27, residents rose with the sun, broke for lunch when the sun approached its zenith, or when the temperature rose to a point making a break desirable.

Tracking the cyclic phases of the moon became more important to me than the name of the month or the count of days on a calendar. I noticed how the moon phase tracked with my menstrual cycle. I began to observe the stars and how they shifted position in the sky as we moved toward spring. They don’t actually shift, of course; it’s we who shift our position relative to them. I’d never seen so many stars before coming to Walden 27.

When spring came, the yard around my cottage was planted with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Every square meter of fertile land in the whole of Walden 27 was planted with something edible or useful and it was all worked cooperatively, which meant that I was always encountering people in my garden, working the ground, tending the plants. I had to remind myself it wasn’t “my” garden, though I soon began to do a little weeding there and, later on, I did claim some of the produce for myself.

The lack of regimentation was seductive. In Walden 27, we kept our own time. I relegated my little clock to a dresser drawer.

 

Shadow of the Hare: Recall Chronicles, Vol. II available on Amazon.

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Journey to Palmyra…Mexico

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Reading in today’s news that the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra has changed hands once again in the ongoing civil war, I was reminded of the following passage from the second volume of Recall Chronicles – Shadow of the Hare. This scene takes place during the years that protagonist Malia Poole spent at Walden 27, a simplicity community in west Texas, near Marfa.

“I have to make a run to Palmyra day after tomorrow,” Walter told me one Thursday evening when I’d joined him and his house family for supper. “Do you reckon you’d want to come along?”

Because of Walter’s familiarity with the region, he was occasionally set tarea of running errands such as this one to the Book Community known as Palmyra, with which Walden 27 maintained an arrangement of mutual support. He’d told me that Palmyra lay to the southwest and … operated as a sufficiency community.

“Tell me more about this place we’re headed to,” I said. “Palmyra. All I know so far is that it’s a Book Community. Where exactly is it located?”

“Technically, it’s in Mexico.”

“What? You didn’t tell me we’d have to cross an international border. I don’t think I have documents for that.”

“Relax.” Walter chuckled. “Not all borders are the same. Besides, Mexico doesn’t really claim Palmyra anymore. It’s kind of a no-man’s-land. No worries.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Palmyra is down near Presidio, just north of Ojinaga. Real pretty area, where the Rio Conchos joins up with the Rio Grande. Daddy told me that the town started off around maybe 2017 as a detention center for Muslim immigrants, mostly from Syria. There were also some native-born Americans who happened to be Muslim who got thrown into the mix for reasons that most people don’t seem to remember. Anyway, when Texas went independent in 2020, they kind of forgot about this particular detention center—some people say it was on purpose—and it got left in the hands of its corporate managers. And then the rivers changed course in the big floods a few years later and the corporation folks just up and left. Abandoned it. The upshot is that what was once a detention center became an independent community. The original Muslim residents took in some dissident Catholics from Central America and then, a little later, some Jewish refugees from Israel. It was one of the earliest Book Communities, making peace among all the children of Abraham, as they say. Population’s around five thousand or thereabouts now.”

READ MORE in Shadow of the Hare, available on Amazon.