“I wish it need not have happened in my time, said Frodo. So do I, said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.  

“Wha day is thish?” My sleepy spouse the Binmeister mumbled from beneath his pillow.

“It must be Wednesday; the garbage truck came yesterday,” I replied.

One day seems to run into another ever since the Coronavirus lock-down. Events have been canceled or have gone virtual, leaving a lot of whited-out squares on my social calendar. If it wasn’t for trash collection days or my Fitbit, I wouldn’t know what day it is. One wonders how early humans tracked their appointments.

There is evidence that prehistoric people observed the movement of the Sun and stars and recorded phases of the Moon as much as 30,000 years ago, according to Leo Rogers’ article “A Brief History of Time Measurement.” Early calendars usually aligned both solar and lunar years based on observation. Ancient people also noticed seasonal divisions in the year marked by natural events, such as flowering of trees, cyclical animal and bird migration and regular changes in weather and temperature.

 The Roman calendar, which followed a 10-month solar year, was reformed by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. Caesar added a Leap day to adjust the time that was off by one day every 4,000 years or so. Talk about having time on your hands.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII abolished the Julian calendar and renamed it the Gregorian calendar for guess who. The Gregorian calendar updated the Julian calendar and is still used today. It has 365 days divided into 12 months. Gregory XIII kept leap year with the caveat that a leap day was allowed in a year divisible by four but not by 100 except when the year is divisible by 400…Huh? It’s only off by 26 seconds a year, so don’t worry about it. If an upcoming ruler doesn’t create a new calendar and name it for him- or herself, it will be about 2,900 years before we lose another whole day, plenty of time to change appointments, and reschedule gala events.

The first half of 2020 has been fraught with turmoil.  “This too shall pass in good time,” my mother would say. She was born in 1920 and endured the Great Depression as well as World War II.

 Today folks are making the best of the pandemic and subsequent woes caused by isolation and shutdowns as well as protests and riots. As French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “the time for action is now. It’s never too late to do something.”

The Final Word…As do most folks, Rooney Bin occupants have digital watches and computers that automatically update the date and time.

Early “clocks” measured the passage of specific segments of time by observing the dissipation level of oil in a lamp as it burned, or the rate of wax burning in a candle. Water clocks measured the flow or drip of water from a container, and 14th century hour glasses filled with sand were used to measure how long to boil a three-minute egg.

In 1582, Galileo studied pendulum motion as a way to keep track of time, but the first pendulum clock wasn’t made until 1656 by Christiaan Huygens. The Rooney Bin has a number of antique pendulum clocks. When wound, they tick, tock loudly. We don’t wind them at all feeling confident that no matter what time they display each is always right twice a day. Besides, all that tick-tocking could drive one crazy when quarantined.

 The best advice in these troubled times comes from Mother Theresa, who said: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”