A Perfect Timepiece

My two friends patiently wait at the bottom of the stairs, as I tear around for my jacket. I stumble onto my flashlight which I always carry in my jacket pocket on the dining table. I figure out that the jacket has gone for a wash.

It is early April but early mornings are still chilly so I need to layer up. Feeling awkwardly bulky with all my layers, I step out with my friends. I hear a tractor noise. There is hardly any farming left in the village as everyone’s shrunken land can no longer sustain a profitable farming business. But we have some old timers in the village who craftily till their few acres and build green houses for their specialty businesses, growing mostly flowers year round.

Apparently, as the story goes, the original owner of my property was a Dutch farmer who grew an amazing tulip garden that visitors would flock to from far and wide during the Spring. I found all his rusted tilling tools in the attic of the old garage. Unfortunately there was nothing salvageable as most of the things had metamorphed to junk.

Though the sun had come out, I could still see the partial moon. All my life I was aware of moon phases but what was going to happen next will be a revelation; a new understanding based on added information.

There are many roads in our village that have not been paved. We know they have a name and they exist but they have always been kept hushed in hopes of blocking human encroachment. These roadways come in very handy for some nice walks. I chose one of those routes today and saw a hermit on his 1950’s old red tractor tilling away.

I have never understood why farmers don’t shave. There are a few in the village that whenever I see them at community events, they are clean shaven and wearing a suit. I can’t recognize them. I guess with all the hard labour that goes into working the fields, that by the end of day, you have just enough energy left to eat and go to sleep. But even this mystery is going to get solved today.

The hermit stopped his tractor to wave and starts walking towards me. I stop and wait for him to come closer.

“Hey, what’s up? How come you are working so early?”

“I have one more day before I plant the ground crop.”

“Get some help.”

“I cannot afford.”

“Why do you have to plant by tomorrow?”

“That’s what the almanac says.”

“What almanac?”

“The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”

“How does it work?”

“You should know. It’s similar to your Hindu and Chinese calendars.”

“Yeah, we have a Lunar calendar.”

“It’s the same. The farmer’s almanac follows the lunar cycle and tells you what to do and when to do it.”

“And I was under impression the west used technology.”

“These new guys don’t know anything . We old farmers stick to the almanac like a prayer book.”

“How does it work?”

“I told you. It’s the same as your calendar. There are charts and timings. Go for your walk. When you come back I will show you.”

I continue my walk wondering how symbolically I have regarded the moon and how it comes out in conversation. Being from Indian origin, I understand the cultural significance of the moon. Every festival in India is marked with dates corresponding to lunar movements. The moon has been the subject of art and love for eons. Many people argue, even today, that lunar phases induce lunacy and we have increased frequencies of lunatic incidents during various tides and shifts. With these thoughts I look over at the moon with a twinkle in my eye, wondering what it will induce today.

As I walk back, I see the hermit with a book in his hand: The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2012.

He has a page marked in his hand. He turns the book to show me. “See? April 12th ‘plant below ground crop.” He flips through various pages and quickly shows me notes he had made over the Winter. “This thing is perfect,” he says, pointing to the pages. “We had a mild wet winter. That’s what it says.”

“What else?”

He is laughing as he is looks at the activity pages. “Now they have dates for when to start dieting and losing weight.”

I have this big smile. I had heard my grandmother tell us not to drink or eat certain things on certain days. “Well, we have fasting periods in the Hindu calendar,” I tell him.

“Right, that’s what it is. You see, I told you it’s the same. I even follow this for when to cut my hair.”

“Now that’s going a bit too far.”

“I am telling you, it works.”

“So when’s your next hair cut?”

He flips the pages and finds something and counts. Then he looks up and says, “I have seven perfect days between now and the end of May.”

“So which one you will go for?”

“I’ll go for the last day. It says May 31st.”

“That’s almost two months.”

“Works for me,” he says, “I don’t have to go anywhere. I’m just too busy.”

“Right.”

“I was going to ask you something.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Better run your tractor while the dandelions are still a yellow flower. Don’t wait for them to dry.”

“Why?”

“Well, when it’s dry, all the seed heads blow in from your side to mine, especially in April. These turn into colonies and it creates a lot of work for me to clear the way for my flowers.”

“Sure, no worries. Let me know. I will cut it the day you want. I am home anyways.”

He looks in his almanac, nodding his head, “If we don’t have them come up by April 20th then it’ll be May 16th but I think you should cut them by April 20th. They should be out by then.”

“Sure.” He closes the book and points to the moon and says, “That thing is a perfect timepiece.”

Twenty minutes later, when I am back with Smiley, the bright sun is out and the moon nowhere to be seen. I keep walking and thinking about this man’s love affair with his perfect timepiece. Since the origin of creation, to man’s to his desire to land on it, to our Canadian dollar’s ‘moonstruck’ reference we call the loonie…, I keep building my insanely endless moon list. The moon surely is perfectly timeless.

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