In the work of rebuilding our regional food system we often hear a lot about eating seasonally, but on this especially cold day I want to talk about living seasonally—which is to say, living fully in the season we are in. Many of us have a favorite season that we wait for while we endure the others for three quarters of the year, yet there is so much to gain from being present.
I believe that each season, month and moon cycle has gifts for us to notice and digest.
A great aid in this venture, I have found, is a good almanac. A group of creative writers, farmers and educators here in Vermont have just put together a wonderful one and I encourage you all to order it. I’m devouring it!
An almanac is organized month-to-month and provides an often regional perspective on the natural world and its impacts on our lives. These observations are frequently written by farmers and folks living in rural areas, who bring a unique connection to land and seasonality. I think of the wisdom held by our own farmers and producers; perhaps we need a Farmers To You Almanac.
With this in mind, here is what I am noticing, digesting and savoring in this moment of deep winter. Yesterday, Thursday, was the full moon—the wolf moon. I have to say, the emotions and energy we have been feeling this last week have been very wolf-like. Hyper-attentive, tensed and rushed. Phew! It has been quite interesting to watch. The idea of relaxing just isn’t in the cards.
We are noticing that the birds are active again and out foraging and eating. For a few weeks on either side of the solstice they go very still and silent. My birdfeeder went almost unvisited, but in the past week has been emptied. In another couple of weeks, the birds will begin singing again. I can’t wait.
I am also finding that my thoughts are less inward-focused. The two solstices are, for many, points in the year when our attention is completely focused on either our external or internal world. As the days lengthen we are emerging from that period of deep introspection.
As for food, well, this is a time of comfort: think stews, casseroles, roasted veggies and soups. Our bodies need warmth, and the rich and nourishing energy to fortify us for the cold and hard work of forming ideas and plans for the spring and summer.
Just like the seeds in the ground, we are preparing to bloom and bring our thoughts and desires to the world for realization.
I’ll see you by the fire with a bowl of steaming stew.