May first, second or even Cinqo de Mayo never meant anything very much to me in my past city life. April 30th. Whatever….they were just numbers or dates before and they were numbers that dictated my schedule from the demands of my appointment calendar. Each day was just another day in the hectic rush that was urban life. I was OK with all that at the time….didn’t really know any different. I was too busy to stop and smell the flowers and, anyway, what would be the point of smelling flowers?
May first is a BIG DEAL now! May first and the garden work begins in earnest. May first is the beginning of the commercial prawn fishery. May first has heretofore marked the beginning of our ‘popular’ season. Typically, the first of the visitors would arrive within the week. The bottom of the boats need attention right about now. Raven babies will be here soon. Oysters may be suspect (Red Tide) and the worst part: the tides are all low in the afternoon (makes carrying heavy crap so much more difficult). The date may be important (give or take a week) but only because it marks the beginning of the BIG seasonal chores and changes.
Rural life generally erodes the now typical, urban adherence to the clock and the calendar for the rest of the year. And life OTG practically eliminates it. The clock no longer counts all that much, the sun does. The tides do. Most of us around here are unsure about the day of the week and oblivious to the time in minutes. No one wears a watch. We can do hours and minutes when we have to you (i.e. vaccine appointment) but, generally speaking time is now set out in daily chunks, as in, “I’ll get to it tomorrow morning or maybe early afternoon.” No one says, “I will be there at 10:15 am but have to leave for an appointment at 11:45.” That kind of statement would be considered a joke.
I would say that May first is a date of significance and maybe October 31st is similar in that the former seems to mark the onset of summer (here summer comes early) and the latter date marks the end to a lot of outdoor chores and activities. Instead of a busy calendar of 350 days plus, I have a slack calendar that pivots on two days.
And I adjust the solar panels around those two times as well.
This ‘Island Time’ mindset is not restricted to the OTG folks interacting on an imprecise clock, it includes the services we have brought in. I took some stuff to the barge terminal last month to have brought out (big and heavy) and they said, “Well, the barge is up on the hard. Hope to get to you after the 18th of May.” And Sal and I were down doing some wiring on our boat yesterday morning (April 30) and Sal heard the deep rumble of the barge. I ran over the hump to see and, sure enough, the barge was at the beach. Surprise! A two-ton delivery was being made 18 days off the schedule and not a word was even mentioned.
“Hey, we are just happy to have it here!”
We have now pretty much integrated getting food from the store delivered to the community dock. That is now a popular service only to see more and more grocery/delivery use over time. The women who volunteer to distribute the load when it gets there come from all around (two or three separate islands). Their commute is at least 30 minutes to 45 minutes. They never have a clue when the food boat is going to come until the last minute when either the boat calls or one of the women call the boat. Even then, the chore is often fulfilled an hour later than predicted or even more. The only thing they know for sure is that the food will likely come around noon, give or take a couple of hours. Maybe three.
That’s OK, the women all like each other and they socialize but, in the winter, that can mean standing in the rain or the snow. It can be a smidge irritating – and it will ever be thus…..delivery times are made in chunks, too.
When I lived in the city, it was the opposite. I had appointments. Maybe as many as five in a day and always in different places. I was also a smidge compulsive about being on time. So, I would often find myself driving in heavy traffic with my knee, eating a glop-burger while talking on the cell phone and writing notes in my calendar (talk radio on in the background) all so that I could be on time. I had synced myself to the clock to the point that I knew within minutes what the time was throughout the day. Put more succinctly, it was a minor madness.
Ironically and, perhaps colorfully, I would describe this difference in perspective with a pendulum metaphor. I was minute-driven in the city and now I am sun, tide and seasonally driven. The difference is huge.