The chickens are laying again. They’ve hit some tipping point in the daylight-to-night ratio where their egg producing hormones have been triggered and the hen fruit are once again gracing the nests.
It isn’t on account of it being spring. The equinox is several weeks away and the dark hours still outnumber the light. Besides, chickens don’t read calendars. The whole concept of spring, or winter, is basically a people idea, not a chicken idea. We humans tend to identify seasons based upon a noticeable consistency of things like rainfall, snowfall, heat, angle of sunlight, etc., and then we use holidays to nail the seasons to the calendar, as if by doing so we could somehow contain time.
But a season isn’t a thing, it’s a passage - the temporary raiment of time as it flows through our lives. Even though we may acknowledge that change is the only constant, it is all too easy to mistake what is for what always will be.
Where I live, we normally expect rain in this season. This year, the rains did not come for a very long time. Gradually the notion took hold that we were in the throes of a drought, and this term came to frame our understanding of the situation. Unwelcome though the knowledge may be, there is a certain reassurance in being able to identify your situation. We are having a dry winter. Except, of course for the fact that it is now raining cats and dogs. Has been for a week, and its expected to continue. Plus ça change…
Speaking of cats and dogs, these two animals are very good examples of the way living creatures deal with change.
Cats are conservative by nature. Whatever is going on with them in the moment represents the best achievable accommodation to events. They have found the patch where the sun is warmest; they have found the posture where the cushion is most conformable; they have presented you with their most stroke-able spot. Things have been worked out and stability is much appreciated, thank you.
Change could certainly happen, and while change always allows for new possibilities, cats are generally not interested in testing them. While things could certainly turn for the better, the odds in favor of better are not enough to offset the possibility of worse. So just leave it alone, please.
Dogs, on the other hand, are optimistic by nature. To a dog, whatever is currently going on, fun though it may be, is sure to be supplanted by something even better in the next moment. The present situation is but an overture to the next great caper; there are no stationary sticks, only ones waiting to be flung; the food bowl is always half-full.
Pet a sleeping dog, and it will probably wake right up, wondering what new adventure you have in mind. Pet a sleeping cat, and it will probably sleep some more.
Dealing with change is a tricky business. We know that change for its own sake is a careless endeavor, fraught with hazard. And yet we try not to be too fearful of change because we know the danger of inflexibility. We don’t always get a choice in the matter. Sometimes we can initiate change, but more often, we are simply trying to influence the direction of change that is happening anyway, and most often, we are simply trying to adapt to change that is entirely beyond our control.
The one thing that seems clear is that our sense of the present is going to be different. That is what change does. It supplies us with a new set of circumstances and then subjects us to the fear of the unknown. It might be useful to remember that today’s known was yesterday’s unknown. And as soon as the unknown becomes known, it becomes history.
The present is ephemeral, and change is the reason why. If the future doesn’t exist yet and the past is receding at the speed of light, then this little sliver of time we call the present is all we have. We should honor it. It is who we are. It is where we live. And it is always in the process of becoming something else.
Take it for better or take it for worse. Just don’t take it for granted.
David Parr, Artistic Director
There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.
Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act V. sc. 2.