The Power of the Sundial
posted by: JoAnn
Claire and I enjoy going to Standley Lake Library. It’s one of our favorite libraries on our list. We’ve gone there for StoryTimes and for the Summer Reading Program. In the past, I may or may not have gone there to use the computer when I had a self-induced panic attack over my internet connection.
Recently, as we were leaving the building, something caught Claire’s eye.
“There are?” I said. I hadn’t noticed. She had, because she has been enthralled with numbers and counting things for a while. Three is one of her favorite numbers right now.
We went over to check it out. Sure enough, there were the three tall lines of the Roman Numeral Three on the block. I explained to Claire that it was the number three, and we counted the lines out loud. She thought it was really cool.
Then, I looked around. There wasn’t just the Roman Numeral Three, there were other numbers, on other blocks, and they formed a circle.
Wait a minute…
I love sundials. There is something magical about capturing the shadows made by the sun and using them to tell time. There is something very ancient about the practice, and I feel closer to nature and the past when in the presence of a sundial.
Why hadn’t I noticed this before? I vaguely remember seeing this metal figure, this statue outside the library, but I don’t remember seeing the blocks. And, I certainly don’t remember there being a sundial of this magnitude outside the library we frequent.
I took some photos of the sundial and the poem on the stone in the center of the circle with my BlackBerry and vowed to do some research on this.
To “set” the sundial on this site, we set the hour in stone
“What time?” we wondered, “should we choose, if we could choose but one?”
When winter chill invades the bone, when icy winds do blast
will people stop to check the time? Or will they hurry past?
Yet summer breezes please us all and so too summer sun.
People linger out of doors, until the warmth is gone.
To “set” the sundial on this site, we set the hour in stone.
We chose the daylight savings time when all was said and done.
When I got home, I searched online and came up empty-handed. So, I called the main library information line for the county. The reference librarian that answered the phone sounded intrigued by my question and said she’d check. She seemed to know about the sundial (which is more than I can say about myself!), but didn’t know when it had been built. A few minutes later, she got back on the line.
The sundial had been erected when the library was built. The library had opened in the fall of 1991.
This sundial had been there for almost 18 years, and I was just now noticing it? Granted, I’ve only lived in this area for 10 of those years…but still. I thought my skills of observation were a little stronger than this. The sundial had hidden in plain sight for nearly a decade, only to be discovered by a little girl who loves the number three.
So, now, every time we go to the library, we stop to admire the sundial. We feel a connection to the ancient world when we calculate the time. We feel a connection to our own world when we notice something that has been here the whole time.
A sundial can only tell you the time; it can’t tell you how to use it. It can’t make you slow down and be more observant….but this one has.
Have you recently seen something again for the first time? Do you stop and see the sundials, or do you rush right by them as you go about your day?