When we live with the seasons, we embrace the very heart of that season and live in harmony with the weather patterns, our body, home, and hearth. Living with the seasons is living with nature. To me, there is a sense of romance around the simplicity of this way of being. Unconsciously, I have always marked the changing of the seasons, but never fully wrapped my whole being into them, because of the busyness of my life. My mind was always looking ahead to the next season. Slowing down to acknowledge the season in a more purposeful way is my current mission. By being more aware, I have been able to live with the rhythm of each season. Living seasonally helped me make a deeper connection to Mother Earth, the land, and our food supply. This way of life really gives us an appreciation for the world that we are a part of. This is something I have really been concentrating on for the last 5 years. The plants and animals know this way. Our ancestors knew this way, but our schedules and technology have made us forget that we are part of nature.
What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t take much time or effort to live with the rhythms of nature. It’s more like a surrendering, and I’m much happier for doing so!
Getting back in touch with seasonal living and finding regenerative inspiration isn't as time-consuming, expensive, or difficult as you might think. It doesn’t have to add to your to-do list. If we take a few small steps and build on those, our lives can be lived closer to the rhythms of Mother Earth. It's a simpler way of being, rather than one full of electronic noise.
Here are a few simple strategies to help us embrace seasonal living all year long:
1. Eat seasonal, local foods
Why pay twice as much for out-of-season food that doesn’t have flavor anyway? During the winter months, eat foods that are easy-to-store or that you preserved from your summer harvest. Potatoes, winter squashes, and root vegetables are perfect fall and winter foods. Make rich, hearty foods, and include a lot of soups and stews. Find a “compromise food” that is a winter treat. My personal favorite is pomegranate. I look forward to this yummy fruit every December. Apples and pumpkins store well and can be preserved in many different ways. Greens are perfect for a winter garden indoors or in a greenhouse in colder climates.
The warmer temperatures of Spring bring a cleansing that helps us balance our rich, winter diets.
As summer approaches, the different berries begin to ripen and are another delicious way to enjoy the season. Summer brings a complete bounty of vegetables and fruits with a bit of work in the great outdoors.
The arrival of fall brings the heartier fruits and root vegetables, and its own list of amazing seasonal food indulgences.
A side benefit to eating seasonally is that you appreciate different foods MUCH more when you don’t have them all the time! It varies our diet for the nutrition that we need for the season, as well. If we listen to our bodies, they will tell us what we need for each season.
2. Plant a Garden
A garden may be the easiest and most popular way to appreciate the seasons, and it's about as local as you can get to eating seasonally. When you plant a garden, you’ll see the tender growth of spring turn into the lush fruits and vegetables of summer, and then slowly die back in the fall until it’s time for the garden to rest for the winter. Plus homegrown fruits and vegetables taste much better than any store-bought produce! If you don’t have a lot of space, or live in an apartment, there is always container gardening. My very first garden consisted of 5-gallon buckets on my apartment balcony and windowsill boxes. You’d be surprised how many organic vegetables grow really well in a few containers.
3. Your Thermostat
Set it only slightly cooler in the summer and only slightly warmer in the winter. It’s difficult to appreciate seasonal temperature fluctuations when you’re in a bubble of 72°F all the time.
In the winter, set your thermostat between 58°F to 65°F. If you get cold, add more layers, a sweater, a blanket, and rely solely on efficient wood heat. The rooms closest to the wood stove will be toasty, but the rest of the house will remain seasonally cool, which is great for sleeping and resting your body. Our habit of huddling inside with the thermostat set for summer temperatures, while bemoaning the snow and cold doesn’t allow our bodies to rest or live with the winter season!
In the summer, keep the thermostat just a bit cooler than it is outside, or consider turning it off. In our current home, we don’t have air conditioning, which I bemoaned this summer and appreciated at the same time. We relied on wearing very little and fans and spent a lot more time outside, including sleeping outside, because it was much cooler. There is nothing more beautiful than falling asleep with a blanket of a stars above you. We also do most of our cooking outside on the grill, which keeps the house from heating up. My dream is to have a summer kitchen that is not attached to the house.
Spring and fall are the perfect times to open all the windows and let the cool breezes regulate the temperature inside the house.
4. Change Your Activity Level
Our lives have become a series of non-stop, go go go events. Resting and unplugging have become things we only dream about or do when we have exhausted ourselves. Give yourself permission to stay home and nest-up in the winter time. It’s a great time for planning, too. In the spring, you’ll begin to emerge ready to open up to the outside world, plant your garden, and clean the home and hearth. Spring and summer are often full of outdoor activities. As the summer turns to fall, we once again feel the pull inward to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished.
There are times of activity in the winter, like skiing, sledding, and shoveling snow. But the colder weather and shorter days urge us to slow down, rest, and snuggle under blankets.
In summertime, we can also rest on lazy summer afternoons—more often than not summer is about going wherever the winds blow.
Get outside as much as possible. No matter what the temperature. The “winter blues” can be combated with fresh air, sunshine, and a bit of exercise. Bundle up and keep moving! If you feel yourself getting cabin fever, and are impatient for spring, plan your garden or start your seeds indoors to usher in the change of the season.
5. Arts & Crafts
Recently, I started making and creating by the seasons. Everything slows down around Samhain (October 31st). This is when I turn to indoor arts and crafts, like sewing, weaving, crocheting, painting, and glasswork. In the spring and summer, I want to be building or up cycling furniture, working clay, photography, and dying yarn and fabrics.
A huge inspiration for me was the suggestions around creating seasonal grooves. I naturally found myself attracted to certain activities and crafts during certain seasons of the year, but I felt guilty for wanting to be outdoors in my garden in summer instead of finishing up a blanket I started in the winter. So, to you, I give permission to create by the season as you feel called.
6. Get up with the Sun
While we burn artificial lights late into the night, the pulse of Mother Earth goes undetected. If we can sync the rhythm of our days with the natural rhythm of the seasons, we will be much happier. Use the sun as your guide to seasonal living. If it’s up early and goes to bed late, make the most of this time by doing. When the days start getting shorter and the nights longer, use that as a reminder to rest. In our modern world, we try to power through these shorter days without building in time to rest. If you try to do this all year, you’ll exhaust yourself. When the nights are longer, go to bed early and sleep in a bit later. It feels pretty amazing.
7. Stay in the Moment
The last strategy living with the seasons is to plan for the season ahead. That doesn't mean longing for the next season. This was a great opportunity for me to slow down and think about my expectations before just charging ahead willy-nilly and realizing halfway through the next season that I was going to have a lot of unfilled dreams and plans. Live in the moment as much as possible. Give yourself permission to be excited about the small seasonal changes that motivate you to be more attuned to the upcoming season.
Living with the seasons brings us closer to the rhythms of nature, which is our natural state of being. AND this is what makes us happier.
I'd love to hear from you. What strategies do you use to help you live with the seasons?