Spare a moment to imagine young tree shoots sprouting, flowers blooming, the transformation of butterflies, birds setting off on migrations along the best routes, insect larvae appearing just in time to nourish hungry new hatchlings… All these phenomena point to invariable periodic events in biological life cycles. Derived from the Greek word phainō meaning ‘to show, bring to light, make to appear’, phenology is concerned with the recurrent cycles in natural events; nature’s unique schedule determined by seasonal variations.
In this regard, phenology is the study of natural sciences based on faunal and floral observations, dealing with all forms of natural reality independent of human thought. Investigating how various non-human species react to external stimuli has become increasingly important considering our planet’s changing ecological conditions. This extraordinary calendar helps botanists and zoologists keep track of changes and biodiversity. In an ecological sense, it plays a role in determining our choices, thoughts and actions during our lifetimes, yet it also provides observable, concrete and objective data, both on personal and social levels.
Phenological changes create patterns, mechanisms and landscapes in nature which we have the ability to notice, observe, feel and, through interpretation, transform into art construed on the emerging concepts of time, effort, patience, detail and admirable beauty.
Picturing humans sharing the planet with other beings as part of nature rather than its master, we could then talk about the cyclicality of the concept of time; that patience might be a feeling of trust in the probabilities beheld by time. We could refer to effort, which embodies continuity and consistency, as a concept probably as old as time and patience. And as a consequence, the visible transforms into fascinating and magical things that contain infinite details.
Rooted in our obsession with feeling, observing, understanding and digesting nature’s rhythm, the concept of patience contains details achieved only with effort and a tranquil moment in time. Patience may at first seem like inertia in nothingness, but it is a concentrated form of resistance and power for essence and being. Is patience not to keep on flowing while maintaining a sense of yourself rather than being a bearer of plight like the legendary Patience Stone? And if we slow down our pace, hold up a lens and feel, can we establish some form of dialogue with the things that have been waiting patiently to be noticed?
*Though the quote has been attributed to prominent intellectuals of the 20th century, Bertrand Russell and W. B. Yeats, the original statement appears in English poet and author Eden Phillpotts’ 1918 book ‘A Shadow Passes’.