Uncontained time

Calendars are containers too – they contain time. I see the days as little stacks of calendar pages; and the months like a line of little fields, separated by twelve fences. The January field is blue-white, and seems longer than all the other fields. Its fence is higher than the others – a steep climb.

January didn’t exist for the early Romans until 713 BC, when Numa Pompilus, the second king of Rome, added Ianuarius and Februarius to the calendar. Until then, the Roman year started in March at the vernal equinox, and ended in December. All those months added up to 304 days; the remaining 61 days of winter weren’t part of the calendar, which was maybe a good thing.

If you were a Roman, living within that undelineated time, what would it feel like? You’d see the sun come up and go down 61 times, but you wouldn’t really be counting. The moon would wax, and wane, twice – and then it would be spring!

Not so bad, an uncontained time in the dead of winter.

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