"Seasonal Living"... It's the little things.
There are so many labels or categories for "living with more/less connection to ______." Authentic, Slow, Minimalist, Whole ... Seasonal; they all mean something to those of us who identify with them. I think we gravitate towards these words because language and life have become so instant, abbreviated, and trend-influenced that we're compelled to interject some thoughtful prose, and layers of literature into daily routines that can't completely escape convention. But what do these words look like when they're lived in, and why are they necessary in the first place?
I could probably write about all of them, and maybe over the course of time, I will. But for now, my mode is seasonal living. Why? Well, moving to a state with two predominant seasons that are 1000 miles removed from what I grew up knowing, left me feeling homesick. I longed for the familiarity of a chill in the air during October, and the smell of a furnace warming the house on the first cold night of the year. I missed the feeling of warm sun shining through crisp air in early spring, and the excitement of summer in full bloom after 5 overcast months of winter.
The way we dressed and ate — our general activity — naturally responded to the change in seasons. Spiced lattes and hot chocolate had a purpose! Can anyone really enjoy pumpkin flavored anything when it's 80º? ... I digress. The solution to easing said wistfulness was two-fold.
#1. Discover and enjoy new local, seasonal fare. In place of late summer's apple season, there are festivals for Hatch green chiles. Prickly pear cactus fruit is ripe and ready for foraging in the fall. Spring is bookended by crawfish and shrimp from the Gulf. (This is just a fraction of new seasonal food.) And in place of certain festive beverages, there's locally roasted coffee with seasonal varietals, and limited runs of festive craft beer. <-- This is an acceptable substitute.
Even when we don't find ourselves 1000 miles from home, we can discover (or reimagine) local flavors that are quintessentially "home". We can find one ingredient to wait for and celebrate in season — like melon or berries in the summer!
#2. Create a sense of seasonal transition in the home. The outside climate is (ahem) changing. But the mood inside our homes can still cycle through the rhythms of winter, spring, summer and fall; because seasons aren't really about weather. Weather and climate have shaped our ideas about time transitioning, and progressing through a calendar year. However, it's more nuanced than that. (This is where it get personal.)
Our habits, the way we allocate our time, the little ceremonies that grace our days, weeks, and months can all reflect natural transitions. We see it in the way things grow. There is a time to rest and lay dormant, followed by new beginnings, then active growth and bearing fruit, and a slowing down to preserve energy, in order to prepare for rest again. Unfortunately, we tend to heap value on the times of high-energy, growth and production. But if we live in that season too long, we end up exhausted and frustrated by diminished effectiveness. The downshift and rest periods are just as valuable. They may even be more valuable; because restorative time makes progress possible.
So, I encourage us to take some time and associate some activities/goals/practices with times of the year. Consider the actual environment of our home and how we can use fresh air, fragrance, quiet times, design details, to create the sense of change that's most natural for us and our families. Lastly, know that we have to give ourselves the freedom to move at pace that varies from the hurried current. We can write poetry into our days (and we deserve poetry in our days).
We can't control time. And we can't always choose where we live in the world. But through the power of little things and perspective. We can live at peaceful pace, enjoying what nature has to offer in its own time, right where we are.