Time is the indefinite continuation of existence, marked by a convention. There is no special, unique, and singular convention that marks time and existence is free to find new ones as needed. We humans measure time with precise atomic clocks and radio signals that transfer to shiny watches that crows sometimes covet for their nests. This measured time is orderly and divided into equal parts that mark the passing of our lives through space. We can be early, late, in, on, or out of time. We have somehow relegated our existence to fixed, arbitrary intervals of language. Nature takes another road, one with soft clocks that turn with constantly adjusting intervals, embracing the play of earth, air, fire, water, and space.
In the marsh, time is often measured and marked with the arrival and departure of insect hatches, birds migrating, and flowers. These events can happen in many intermeshed cycles dependent on astronomical movements; now, tidal, daily, lunar, seasonal, annual, sunspot cycles, and El Niño. In Spring, as the temperature warms and daylight lengthens in duration and intensity, plants grow and reach maturity. This maturity is marked by the appearance of flowers and later seeds. Each type of flower signals like the hand on a clock. The progression of the seasons is traced by the rainbow of colors, shapes, forms, smells, and desires of flowers, insects, and birds. These elements and lives are woven together in a web of dependence, a dance of eat and be eaten.
There are so many details of flowering that science can unfold and we will leave that for now. Suffice it to say that a complicated and detailed picture emerges and these complications (factors) provide plenty of freedom to adjust to changing environmental conditions and habitats as they arise. It is enough to recognize that days follow each other into seasons which can be marked by the passing of flower clock time. Every year is similar with minor variations, mostly to do with temperature and rainfall. Each walk along the marsh reveals new flowers and their celebration of completion. We can read the time in wildness if we choose to. In this place, duck, red-winged blackbird, kingfisher, swallow, robin, blue jay, flicker, woodpecker, hummingbird, goldfinch, hermit thrush, towhee, sparrow, chickadee, and ruby-crowned kinglet are busy with nests and feeding on the abundant plants, insects, and worms that have emerged from winter’s sleep. Frogs have woken and sing through the night. They all seem to know flower clock time and get along without atomic clock radio time.