What are you doing during this time of year? Are you in your office, sitting in front of a computer? Are you outside in a garden, harvesting lettuce and greens? When it gets brighter earlier, do you wake up earlier, too? Is the winter snow merely a deterrent to getting to work? Does your day-to-day life change throughout the months, or is it stagnant and unchanging?
If there is one thing I have come to value during my time living in a rural ecovillage, it is the change of seasons and its effects on my daily life. It is something I did not consciously expect, having lived in a suburban/urban environment for the whole of my life, where the change of seasons does not fully dictate the pattern of everyday life. However, there is much to say about fully living with the seasons, and the benefits of a lifestyle that follows the changes throughout the year.
Seasonal Living: Following Natural Patterns
In the winter, I sleep later and am allowed time to plan for the upcoming year — planning for what vegetables I want to plant when the snow melts, what building projects I will start or continue, and what other projects I want to pursue. It is also a time for curling up with a good book and creating small craft work. In the winter, I spend more time indoors and am able to comfortably hibernate after a year of hard work.
In the spring, as the grass comes up and the trees begin to bloom, I begin to plant seeds and begin building projects — additions to my house, a new wood shed, etc. The rain comes and things explode into life, and I feel my energy levels increase, too. As the world turns from gray to green, I witness the world waking up, the return of birds and insects, and all shapes and scales of life. Spring is the real beginning of the year.
The summer, the peak of the year, is when just about everything is happening — harvesting garden vegetables, canning for winter stores, and building are all full-time jobs in themselves. Thanks to the longer daylight hours, I am able to spend more time outside to get to all of those projects that I want to accomplish. I wake up earlier with the rising of the sun and rest during the hottest hours of the day, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, and it’s too uncomfortable to do anything else. And despite the longer hours of summertime, there’s often not enough time to get everything done in time for…
Fall. I realize it’s not just the scenery that fall brings that is so special. It’s that feeling of things once again slowing down, the earth itself preparing for its own hibernation. That transition from heat and sun to cool and dark. And the sort of peacefulness that comes when the proverbial shop is ready to be closed. The time to tidy up those last few things, before the cold comes and it’s time to get inside and stay warm by the fire with a good book.
And the cycle continues…
Living with the seasons is all humans have known during their existence on this earth, but the distractions of our hyper-civilized society make those changes less apparent, and prevent us with living more closely to the changing times. What would it look like if we all lived more seasonally? What would you be doing right now?