This is an excerpt from the (fictional) journal of a human-like alien stranded on Earth, in southern Africa, roughly 125,000 years ago. His journal will eventually become the Holy Book of many planets in the Jarnian Confederation, which is where my two science fiction novels, Homecoming and Tourist Trap, are set. The parts of the journal that have been blogged to date are on my author website.

The northern solstice has passed!

I have made a calendar of sorts, with Songbird’s aid. There is a particular flat rock I stand on, at the top of the rise where I have built my shelter. I can see the sunset move around the horizon from that point, and though the horizon is not flat, the hills are constant. Songbird goes out with me at sunset every day, and moves until the stake she holds is just lined up with the sun on the horizon. Then she drives it into the ground. If it will not go in (which sometimes happens) she holds it while I pile loose rocks around it.

The last few days the stakes have been almost in the same place, but this evening the position of the stake was definitely south of yesterday’s stake, if by only a fingerwidth.

I think the actual solstice was two days ago. At any rate that is what I will assume in figuring the year length, and in trying to estimate when the rains — and Songbird’s people – will be back.

Songbird was not very enthusiastic about helping me at first, though she was obedient enough to do as I said. More of this “god” stuff, I suppose. But when I explained that I wanted to use the sticks to help me know when to go look for her people’s return, she rapidly started reminding me when it was almost sunset. Her leg has healed without a trace of a limp, and I must admit that I feel rather proud of my skills as a doctor!

Of course I have not been here long enough yet to know exactly when the rains will start and the game and Songbird’s people will return. But both should occur as the sun’s course moves back south.

I want to see that shaman!