Nothing about this calendar is normal.
Okay, one thing is normal, it has dates. And it marks time. That's two things.
But it doesn't start in January, pages don't correspond with months, and it has no holidays (except Earth Day, duh, it's a nature calendar).
But it does have a lot that other calendars miss. Like, any connection at all with a physical experience of time.
In days gone by, people marked time with the natural cycles around them that they knew and could predict. To quote Fiddler on the Roof: (sing it with me) “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the years..." Now, we fill in neatly aligned boxes in rectangles.
The calendar we all know and use is called the Gregorian calendar, which divides the exact length of Earth’s orbit around the Sun into 12 mathematically equal portions (to the nearest full day), with leap years thrown in to keep it from drifting by 0.25 days each year. It is all very precise, very efficient, and very practical in many ways.
Yet the way we have come to use it in the modern world lacks any reference to what is going on in the natural world. Today, the most common associations on the internet with the word “season” are about the NBA and March Madness.
By all means, enjoy the holidays, and sports, and the 2019 calendar you already have. Think of this as an enhancement to your regular calendar.
And don’t worry, it has all the dates, days of the week, and months that you’re used to, it just presents them differently.
What else is different?
First of all, it doesn’t start on January 1st, when Roman consuls entered office during the days of the Republic, but with the beginning of the natural year, with the first new moon in spring. (Spring actually begins a little later in that moon, but it seemed wrong not to include the whole moon.)
So the calendar begins with the new moon on March 6th, 2019, and continues for 13 moons, through the moon cycle ending on March 23rd, 2020. Why follow the moons?
MOONS AND MOON PHASES
In days of yore, people tracked the year by watching the moon. Personally. I mean, most individuals would look up at the night sky regularly to tell how far along the month was by what the moon looked like.
And a month was one cycle of the moon. That’s why we have 12 months, by the way, because more-or-less twelve moon cycles pass before the seasons start repeating themselves.
This calendar follows the path of the moon through those 12 cycles (well, there’s actually 13 moons in this calendar, so you get a bonus month, yay).
You flip each page with the new moon, which is a few days off from the beginning of each month. They’re close, but not the same. So, if not "March," what is the month called?
Along with the calendar itself—on the top half of the page—the bottom page is full of features that make this calendar special.
In the good ol’ days, people watching those moon cycles would name moons by what usually happened at that time of year. Many Anglo Saxon names are still familiar to us today, such as Harvest Moon, Lenten Moon, and Easter Moon. By the way, this is how bunnies became associated with Easter, because their new litters were born around that time and everybody knew it.
Since this calendar is meant to track the seasonal changes in North America, I talked to three Native American elders about their traditional names for the moons, and researched more from tribes I didn’t have direct access to.
In including several traditional Native American moon names each month, I hope to both pay respect to the wisdom of those who lived in harmony with the land for so long, and honor their wisdom by using it to learn about the land they cherish.
Their names for the moons provide insight into what happens every year in different parts of the country. The calendar starts with March, whose names include Awakening Moon, Whispering Wind Moon, Maple Sugar Moon—did you know that squirrels also make maple sugar?—and Snow Blind Moon—because the sun is getting higher and reflects off the last of the snow, blinding people.
Of course, each tribe is given credit for the names from their traditions.
NAME THE MOON YOURSELF
There is no official governing body charged with regulating the “real” moon names. Naming the moons has been common to cultures and traditions throughout the world for the very practical reason that it was useful in marking what was important to them at that time of year. The same can apply to you and me today.
So there is space in each month for you to name the moon based on what is happening then in your local area. I hope this simple act will enhance your connection with the outside world with a gentle reminder to notice the changes that make this bit of year different from the last bit.
On the first moon of each season, there is a guide to what produce is in season for each of five regions in the USA.
Produce that’s in season doesn’t have to travel as far, so it is fresher, tastes better, and keeps longer. The abundance means it costs less, and the decreased shipping means fewer fossil fuels are being burned. So all in all, eating produce in season is a win-win-win-win-win proposition.
With this handy guide, you’ll know what produce to expect for easier (and cheaper) meal planning.
EARTH’S ORBITAL POSITION
Each moon has a (pretty close to) scale diagram of the Earth in it’s orbit around the Sun, so you can see its progression month by month. I have no idea how that is in any way useful, I just thought it was cool. (And was danged difficult to figure out.)
Meteor showers, eclipses and equinoxes, oh my! There’s even a transit of Mercury in 2019.
Handy info boxes explain what each one is (what is a transit of Mercury?) or some interesting facts about it.
There are 9 meteor showers this calendar year that will be visible from North America. Now you’ll see them coming up and can plan an outing to get away from the city lights for a few hours to see these celestial spectacles yourself!
Interesting facts about the animals, plants, and other natural patterns that inspired the Native American names of the moons.
NATURE ACTIVITY IDEAS
Fun and easy ideas for enriching your experience with nature, these are especially aimed at those who have little experience around nature—and doable in a city—although they are meant to be interesting enough that anyone can benefit, even if nature is old hat for you.
Sometimes the words of others can evoke feelings in us or capture an experience in a very powerful way. Enjoy these beautiful and wise quotes about nature. Here’s one I love that didn’t make it into the calendar (too long):
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein
GORGEOUS NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
And of course, the calendar has to have great photos! These are some of my best photographs from my travels in the last year and a half. Here are the 13 photos for the 13 moon pages. Which are your favorites?
HOW-TO GUIDES AND EXTRAS
The calendar will also have some easy explanations on how to use this unusual format, as well as bonus info like:
- How to watch a meteor shower (and have a great experience).
- How to spot a squirrel (and other small, fast creatures).
- The phases of the moon clearly explained!
- Why, oh why, do so many explanations of the moon cycles show pictures of the moon phases going to the left, but say that the moon goes East!?
- Which Native American tribes gave the moons each of the names, and their traditional territories (to put the seasonal names in context).
- Even more nature activity ideas!
- And more. Do you have a request?
WHAT IT DOESN’T HAVE
- Week after week lined up like good little soldiers, marching to the drum beat of distant, bureaucratic orders with no relief in sight.
- Civic holidays (except Earth Day, duh, it's a nature calendar).
SUGGESTIONS FOR CREATIVE USES
- Track your periods, moods, eating, sick days, blood pressure, fitness, whatever has cyclical patterns. Or maybe you want to see if there is one. Do you get depressed, energized, or sick around the same time each month?
- Record changes during a pregnancy (by the way, more babies are born at the full moon than any other time of the month).
- Plan nature outings with kids or friends.
- Impress people with all the cool stuff you know about animals and meteor showers.
- Plan meals around local, fresh produce.
- Track other changes in your life.
- These are just a few ways I came up with to use this calendar. What will you think of?
MY STORY: HOW THIS CALENDAR CAME ABOUT
Over 550 days on the road. More than 550 sunsets...and moonrises. Waking up with the sun and settling down with her as well.
For just over a year and a half, I’ve been adapting to the natural patterns of the world around me, and have never felt more connected, more grounded...and more confused.
Although I treasured camping vacations and road trips and getting out into nature as a kid, I mostly grew up amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.
So even though I’ve been trying to “get back to” the rhythms of nature, I know so little about those rhythms that I don't know what to expect, what's important, what to focus on.
There are plenty of books about nature and wilderness skills—I have several—but they're usually sorted by topic, not by time, and focus on only one topic at a time. I wanted something that would put lots different topics together in a format that would tell me what to look for now or soon.
A calendar seemed like the perfect way to organize that information. I've always relied on calendars to tell me what's coming up that's important in my life. But now instead of holidays and birthdays, I wanted to know what fruit to expect at roadside stands, when the moon would be full and blocking my view of the stars, when to look out for migrating birds or wildflowers in bloom or other great photography opportunities.
Despite a great deal of searching, I couldn't find a calendar that would do what I wanted. A calendar that could help me feel the world around me, not just pretty pictures of it.
I started out making this just for myself, to use in my next year on the road, but as I talked about it with others, it seemed like there might be wider interest. I hope you find it a useful companion in your next year. I’d love to get your feedback on what works for you, what doesn’t, and what you’d like to see next year.
By the way, you can follow my (personal and physical) Grand Journey at my blog, 90000milestome.com.
What you'll get is an 11" x 17" (folded 8.5" x 11") wall calendar that is professionally printed with high resolution images and graphics. Or a PDF of the calendar that you can print yourself. Your choice.
In addition to the 13 months, there will also be four pages of bonus guides and information. These are pretty close to finished, but not quite, which is why I don't have samples included here.
Everyone will receive an extra 12 fun and interesting nature activity ideas! AND 12 nature scavenger hunt cards! One of each, for each moon!
Designed for people who live in cities to find those little ways that you can reconnect with nature in the crevices and cracks between the concrete and stucco. Great to do yourself or to engage the kids in your life.
There's actually a lot of nature in and around cities. Here are a dozen suggestions to make it fun and easy to look for!
I made these scavenger hunt cards for myself and have been playing with them for months already! They've been fun and have helped me notice a lot more fascinating details of our natural world, just by having a few things in mind to look out for.
Are you looking for new ways to engage with nature?
This completely new kind of calendar isn’t just boring grids of squares or rectangles. It's a way to get in touch with nature!
- Turn the pages with the moon cycles, not the months
- Follow Earth's orbit around the Sun!
- Learn Native American names for the moons
- It's an astronomy viewing guide
- Includes seasonal produce
- Lots of nature activity ideas
- And it doesn't start in January, but in spring, at the beginning of the natural year!
The different format can help you feel the world around you, not just show pretty pictures of it (though there are great pictures, too).
PRINTING AND SHIPPING INFO
I've narrowed it down to two professional print houses that I believe will do a good job within budget and that use 100% recycled paper, chlorine-free processing, and at least some vegetable based inks. My goal is to make sure that this tribute to nature does not harm nature in the process.
I’ll have the printer selected and proofs finalized by the time the Kickstarter is over, so all that will be left is to tell the printer how many to print. Both have about a week turn-around time, so I should have the calendars in hand by mid February.
I’ve already planned to dedicate several days after they arrive to a shipping frenzy to get them right out to you, via USPS first class mail to save you money.
THIS IS A QUICKSTARTER!
What does that mean?
Quickstarter is a new, fun way of doing Kickstarter campaigns, with the following criteria:
- Plan it in three months or less (check)
- Keep the campaign to around 20 days (check)
- The funding goal should be under $1,000 (check)
- Offer rewards under $50 (easy)
- Shoot the video in one day with a smartphone (sigh of relief)
- No paid social media advertising (yay)
- Include "Quickstarter" in your campaign name (done)
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
Risks and challenges
This is my first kickstarter, but not my first time orchestrating a big project for lots of people with firm deadlines (and usually a shoestring budget), so I know an unrealistic timeline when I see one, and pulling this off won't be a problem.
The calendar is already 98% finished. There are a few tweaks I'd like to make since I've now seen it in print, but all the hard work is done.
As soon as the Kickstarter ends, I'll place the order with the printer for that many copies and should get them by mid February. I already plan on blocking out the next several days for a shipping frenzy so I can immediately mail them out to you!
Even if the printing is delayed or the shipping takes longer, you should have your calendar in hand before it starts in early March.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (24 days)