Title: Cairns
Author: Shenandoah Risu
Rating: G
Content Flags: hanky warning
Spoilers: Season 2 episode 18 "Epilogue"
Characters: Dale Volker, the Novus settlers
Word Count: 571
Summary: Dale Volker helped establish the first calendar on Novus.
Author's Notes: Written for prompt #076 "Pick your prompts" at the LJ Comm sgu_challenge. I picked the following three prompts: #2 New Year, #21 Ritual, #22 Holiday.
Disclaimer: I don't own SGU. I wouldn't know what to do with it. Now, Young... Young I'd know what to do with. ;-)
Thanks for reading! Feedback = Love. ;-)



The day they arrived on Novus would be the beginning of the new year on the planet. They decided on that pretty early on.

"It's totally arbitrary back on Earth, too," Dale Volker explained to them. "Astronomically speaking there is absolutely nothing unique about the first day of January. A solstice or equinox would make so much more sense, as they are actually measurable milestones occurring in regular intervals."

They all watched him getting weaker over the following weeks and months; he tried to work as much as he could, but he was always so exhausted and suffered one fainting spell after another. TJ suspected kidney failure, and when she finally told him he just nodded, admitting to having had high blood pressure issues for a long time – a hereditary condition that ran in his family.

But Dale Volker wasn't one to give up easily. With Lisa's help and Ronald's considerable and apparently never-tiring manpower the three friends began to build a small observatory together. At first they would sneak out under the cover of night, when one of Novus' moons was bright in the sky, so as not to waste precious daylight hours for working on their settlement. But soon others found out, and somehow a volunteer crew rotation established itself, a seemingly undiscussed and oddly functional small army of helpers that made the trek to one of the high meadows whenever possible. Everyone participated. It was a ritual of love, of friendship, of sheer desire to understand their new home and make sense of their environment.

They lugged rocks, stacked cairns, rolled boulders and lined up pebbles, and in an amazingly short time they had fashioned what Eli had dubbed "Dalehenge" – a large circular structure reminiscent of the ancient celestial observatories of Earth's indigenous peoples. Dale Volker devised sextants and protractors, and Varro carved some truly beautiful tools for him to use according to his designs.

Dale and Lisa wrote a manual for their descendents; astronomy and calendar making are painstaking chores that encompass many generations, and one day their children's children would establish a usable calendar based on their original measurements and observations. They made it as simple as possible, and everyone on Novus learned how to use it, so that the knowledge could be passed on from generation to generation in each family.

The day Dale Volker died they all died a little bit inside. There was nothing he could do to stop his inevitable slide towards the end, and nothing they could do to help him. Colonel Young declared the day to be the first official holiday on Novus, a day of remembrance and appreciation. They took extra care in their astronomical observations that night, recording the event in any way they could.

And thus, Dale Volker helped establish the first calendar on Novus, for when their observations matched up again exactly for the first time, they knew how long a year on Novus was.

It also turned out to be the vernal equinox – the beginning of Spring, when the length of the day surpassed the duration of the night.

Over the millennia Dalehenge became one of the most revered places on Novus, deeply spiritual in its solemn atmosphere and quiet beauty, never to be touched or altered, but always looked at in awe and gratitude for the Ancestors who had arrived on Novus with nothing and yet had managed to create a new home.

A New World.



Definitions of "cairn"

From dictionary dot com:

cairn [{kɛərn/ [kairn] noun

a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc.

From nativestones dot com:

Stone piles, heaps or mounds are alternate names for cairns. Cairns have served to memorialize people, locations or events. Cairns occur in many styles and sizes, and undoubtedly were built for a number of different reasons, only some of which we can comprehend today.


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