When the words “season” and “life” are used together, it is usually to talk about the seasons or stages of life – childhood, care-giving, busy, or relaxing. That’s not what we are talking about here today. Today we’re talking about seasonal living – living your life with the rhythms of the seasons.
Nature has an annual cycle. Winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Each season has different weather, energy, feeling, and food. Yet in modern life, we can mostly ignore the seasons. Indoors, with heating and air conditioning, the temperatures stay the same. With electricity, we can have light 24/7. With modern agriculture and transportation, we can eat anything at any time of the year.
And even still, our energy levels change through the seasons. As the path of the sun changes, and we get more or less of it, we tend to have more or less energy (on average).
Technology, modern life, and the seasons
In North America, we tend to live very sheltered lives. With air conditioning, heating, and the modern food system, we could ignore the seasons if we wanted to.
It is lovely to not have to worry about getting frostbite or heatstroke most of the time. It is amazing to have all the advantages and safety that we have. And we should remain grateful to that. Think of people who are less fortunate in your community, or people in other countries, or the people who lived where you live 100 years ago. How amazing is it that we have all that we have today?
And yet, what is the cost for all this progress? Have we lost touch with the world outside our walls? Have we lost touch with our intuition?
While we have access to any food at any time, fresh produce tastes different when it is out of season. Plus, you tend to crave different kinds of meals throughout the year.
Each season also has a particular feel. Whether it is the reflective feeling of mid-winter, the possibility of spring, the busyness of summer – each season feels a little different.
And of course, the weather changes in each season – that is the definition of nature’s seasons. The cold of winter, the heat of summer, and the transitions in spring and autumn.
The changing seasons
I didn’t use to pay much attention to the seasons. As a kid, my experience of the seasons was driven by what I had to wear when I left the house, holidays, and school. Of course, I always enjoyed seeing the snow melt in spring, the freedom of summer, crunching leaves under my feet in autumn, and playing in the snow on warmer winter days. But that was about it.
Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about the ways life changes with each season. I’ve come to believe that embracing each season and making each season distinct leads to a fuller experience of life.1
As I aim to be more aware of my intuition, I notice significant differences in my energy with each season. In spring, I just want to be outside in the woods around my home. In the summer, I want to go places and do things. In fall, I start craving being home more. And in the winter, I become very reflective.
I’ll start with spring because it does feel like a renewal, a beginning. Spring is when the snow melts and the trees burst into bright green. As flowers appear, the bees come out of hibernation. It is a magical time of year, the days are getting noticeably longer, the sun seems brighter, the green returns.
This is the time of year I most appreciate where I live. Each day, I go for a walk and marvel at how much has changed since the previous day. I savour the sun and warmth (and the lack of bugs).
Summer is the time to travel! Going places, seeing new things or returning to places we’ve been before. I have more energy and want to explore – which works out well because driving in winter is no fun at all!
Less screen time, more adventures!
As gardens fill with fresh produce, so too do the stores and farmers’ markets. The fruits and vegetables are fresher, crisper, and tastier. I crave more fresh foods and lighter meals.
When the temperature begins to fall and the leaves follow suit, autumn begins in earnest. The insects start to die down and we begin to prepare for winter. Cleaning up the yard, putting away gardening equipment, and staying closer to home.
For some, the fall means back to school. This could be exciting, with the same feeling of a new year as you get January 1. Or it could be stressful, worrying about what is to come.
As the sun begins to set earlier, we have campfires in the back yard. We soak in the last warm days and seek the sun whenever we can. We savour these last days of warmth before the winter hibernation.
The meals become heartier and warmer – seeking comfort from the first hints of the cold weather to come.
As the snow begins to accumulate and form a blanket, we begin a kind of hibernation. We stay indoors more, wear warmer clothes, bring out warmer blankets.
Once the snow is on the roads, travel is something to be avoided when possible. Yet we also might be waiting for loved ones to come to us – or preparing to go to them.
And of course, it’s time for the holidays. Whether you love them (like I do) or you can hardly wait for them to be over, they do give a particular feeling to the season. In fact, when someone says “the season,” they are usually talking about the holiday season!
As the calendar turns over, during the shortest days of the year, we become reflective. Thinking about the struggles and triumphs that we’ve had over the past year, making plans for the coming year, and assessing where we stand.
Your Next Steps In Living Seasonally
The seasons will have slightly different meanings for each of us. And you can choose what you focus on. Here are a few things you can do to get in touch with a more seasonal way of living.
1. A journal prompt
Take a piece of paper or page in your journal. Divide it into 4. At the top of each quadrant, write one season: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.
Now I want you to consider one season. Close your eyes and visualize it. What thoughts, images, feelings, or associations come to mind?
Take your pen and fill in the quadrant. Draw or make a few notes.
Repeat for each season.
What patterns do you see as you look at all 4? What is the same? What is different? Do you think about food, weather, activities, locations?
This is an exercise in awareness. It is bringing focus to how you think about the seasons right now. It will likely be flavoured by the fact that it is October (or whenever you do this exercise) and by what is going on in your life at this moment.
2. Eat seasonally
First things first, I want to make it very clear that you don’t need to feel guilty about eating foods “out of season.” It is one of the many advantages of our modern culture. But food can be a way to get better connected to the seasonal nature of life. Take what works for you and leave the rest.
Different foods are “in season” at different times of the year. The growing times and how long it takes to mature vary, as do the locations where those foods are coming from. You could look up lists online, or you could simply experience this for yourself.
Foods in season will look more appetizing and be more flavourful. Use your eyes in the store, and your tastebuds at home to tell you what foods are in season – and what foods aren’t.
Even if, for example, fresh berries are in your store all year long, they don’t taste the same throughout the year. They taste much better in the summer.
On the other hand, foods like carrots keep for so long that they taste very similar throughout the year. Similarly, frozen fruits and veggies are always in season. Kept properly in the freezer, they will last for all year with no significant change in quality. So if you want to go all out on this seasonal eating, then this would be the winter option for us in the northern parts of Canada.
Eating seasonally can also refer to the types of meals you eat. The summer might have more salads or barbecued meals (especially if you don’t have airconditioning). The winter may have more soups and stews – hearty foods that make you feel warm.
3. Move seasonally
Spring, summer, and autumn are pretty easy to do outdoor activities. However, where I live, temperatures can get to -40, and I’m not cut out for that. If you feel the same, consider indoor activities. Or you could embrace the snow and ice – curling, skiing, snowshoeing, skating, and more.
4. Your choice!
There are so many ways you can embrace living seasonally. Let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email and let’s build the rest of the list together! If you send it in, I’ll add it to the list!
Although we now have the option to ignore the seasons, life is richer when we embrace them. And I’ll bet the seasons will still impact you in some way. The question is whether you notice the impact.
- Eat seasonally
- Move seasonally
- And more!
Embrace the way the world around you changes throughout the year. You might just find a new source of joy when you do.
Until next time, be good.2
You are reading this because you are interested in improving your life. That means we have something in common. I’m still working on what the Foundations for the Good Life is all about, and I’d love for you to join me in this journey. I’d love to build a community with you. With people who are trying to figure out what “the good life” means, and how to set up their life to make it possible for them.
If this interests you, join the newsletter to be the first to know about updates, new articles, and to try out tools as they are developed and improved. I hope to connect with you soon.
- This is the first time I’ve written about living seasonally. But I doubt it will be my last.
- I was a teenager when I first remember my mom saying, “Be good,” when I left the house. When I left for university, and to this day, she ends most of our conversations in the same way.
Yes, she meant, ‘I love you’ and ‘stay out of trouble.’ But she also meant, ‘do what’s right.’ Follow what you know to be true for you. Learn from life and how to do things better.
Now that I’m trying to understand and evolve my philosophy of life; Now that I’m trying to help other people strive toward living the good life; I want to share that phrase, “Be good,” with you. Be good. Live the good life in whatever way you define that for yourself.