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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Seasons
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 11:01:36 


Good job in showing that the Feast of Holy Katherine occurs in early
Spring!  It is very convincing and I'm willing to go along with it.

This would appear to be a compromise on your earlier position, as well,
since while you see the text supports it, you also tacitly acknowledge that
Nov 25 falls in the =fading= of S. Hemisphere Spring.

Vernal Equinox    Mar 20    Southern Hemisphere Autumn begins
mid-Spring        May  1    mid-Autumn
Summer Solstice   Jun 21    S. Hemisphere Winter begins
mid-Summer        Aug  1    mid-Winter
Autumnal Equinox  Sep 23    S. Hemisphere Spring begins
mid-Autumn        Nov  1    mid-Spring
+Feast of Cath. A. Nov 25    last quarter of Spring+
Winter Solstice   Dec 22    S. Hemisphere Summer begins
mid-Winter        Feb  1    mid-Summer

(I hope you don't mind my using this one again, slightly amended.  You
seemed to be floundering a bit on the S. Hemisphere seasonal thing, in your
first post.)

Of course, the devil of dealing with seasonal weather is geographical
lattitude, which isn't a problem if you know roughly where you are (and
with the Commonwealth, we don't).  (Geographical details also play a part
with local weather: San Francisco is notorious for its cold Summers,
especially in contrast to "California Summer.")

That is, when Severian walks North he is walking toward (or into?) the
tropics.  There is a similar effect when he comes down Mount Typhon--iirc,
he talks of walking through seasons.

OTOH, if a person lives his whole life in the place he was born, and this
person says that local Spring weather had arrived, then he is right, of
course: it doesn't matter if he is in Alaska, Oregon, or Southern
California . . . these differences in lattitude will have some effect in
objective terms but not subjective terms.

Anyway, part of the experiment is to recognize that there are many
different calendar types/traditions at play: astronomical, religious, and
agricultural (at least).

Another tool at your disposal is Precession of the Equinox.  Maybe your
question boils down to: at what year will Scorpius be located at (or near)
the Point of Aries (i.e., Vernal Equinox)?

Re: Spading Moon.  Yes, sorry I gave the ballpark figure for Harvest
Moon--I suppose I should have given the complete data, and then explained
that since the Commonwealth month is =defined= by the Moon, that it will
happen every year in roughly this place (but I felt I was running rather
long already).  Furthermore, I should have mentioned that I could not find
any reference elsewhere to "Spading Moon," nor any named Moons around the
Vernal Equinox (maybe a Farmer's Almanac would help here?); and yes,
Spading sounds more like a Springtime thing to me, too, and I neglected to
mention that tangent--in part because I was keeping Halloween in the Autumn
where it belongs in Western tradition (as opposed to the fading of Winter,
where its festival of the ghosts was celebrated in ancient Rome and Japan
to this day), and in context, because Wolfe wrote it for the 1983 World
Fantasy Con book (WFC happens over Halloween weekend every year).

>    So, how do you explain Cyriaca's claim that the years used to be longer?

This is a common Earth saying--haven't you ever heard it before?  People
say it about their own childhoods.  I would never take it literally in
Earth's case, but I can easily see why it could be an option in Urth

>    There is another temporal anomaly when Sev returns from the library. In
>the closing paragraph of chapter VI he mentions that he had been "two
>watches at least on a simple errand". He hurries back to his tower where it
>is time to feed the prisoners. Drotte being occupied, he brought Thecla her
>meal and the four books, meeting her for the first time . (chapter VII) He
>then returns Drotte's keys. There is a break in the text, then:
>"On the next day but one, I was summoned to Master Gurloes." In the very
>next paragraph Gurloes says: "A week ago, or a little less, I sent you to
>the archivist," he said. I nodded." Two days does not a week make. What is
>going on here?

FWIW, in English we have the phrase "last week."  On Monday, you might say,
"Hey, did you see that TV movie last week?"  The movie in question was on
Friday, only three days ago.

If my calculations are correct, Thecla arrived on the 14th of the month.
On the 15th, people could refer to this as "yesterday" or "last week"
(since a new week has begun) or its equivalent, "a week ago."

Severian went to the Library on the 15th, "the next week" after Thecla

Added to all this, and perhaps more germane, I think that Master is trying
to downplay the importance, trying to make Thecla out as being just another
client, buried among all the daily chores, etc.  This is a fairly clear
fumble on his part, so he then shifts into the opposite mode--trying to
impress upon the youngster that she is very important, very special, so
don't mess up.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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