Monday, January 12, 2009

Living Seasonally, Living Simply

(Time for tea on the tablecloth I made this weekend.)
Ecclesiastes 3
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil?
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

The other day I reflected on our past year and briefly mentioned the idea of living seasonally. Scripture reminds us to "order our days" and "number our days". Life here is brief. It is good to use the days we are given as best we can. Living here in suburbia in America, it is easy to just flow along with the days, not living intentionally. Our calendars are filled with meetings and activities, many of which keep us indoors in our happy, climate controlled spaces.

It may have snowed today, but we are still warm and cozy. If we run out of groceries, we can just drive to the store and we know they will have food. They maybe out of something in particular, but there is still food. We are blessed. There are even strawberries on the store shelves in January in Colorado, never mind that all the strawberry plants in Colorado are covered in snow!

We see the seasons change, not necessarily by the growth or colors of the leaves, but by what the stores have on display. Of course, this does get a wee bit off as Valentines items were up in Target before Christmas and we've all been staring at Christmas decorations in some stores since August. Swimsuits should be for sale soon.

As we have so much at our fingertips, ready for us to buy at anytime--even after all the stores are closed as the Internet never closes. We have power and lights with the flick of a switch. It doesn't matter if it is 2:00 in the afternoon, or the middle of the night. We can live around the clock with ease.

How different life used to be! Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I want to live without electricity. By no means! Nor do I wish to return to a time where today's snow could have left us stranded and frozen. I'm not looking too ideally at the past.
I just think something special has been lost along the way.

As I began gardening a few years ago, I began to sense more of the rhythms of the year. In the winter, I planned and dreamed. In the spring, I planted. In the summer, I worked and weeded and weeded and weeded. In the summer and fall, I enjoyed the flowers, herbs, berries and veggies that I grew.

I felt the weather change. I saw the leaves on my trees change colors and fall. I shoveled snow. I had to wait until the last frost to plant. I grew up in Phoenix where everyone's grass is green year round. I grew up with grocery stores where you could buy anything in any season, even if it was just in a can.

This last year found us spending much more time outside. This is easier as the boys are a bit older. Sweetheart and I worked in the spring in the garden a lot. The events of the summer led to us not being out there as much as we had hoped and planned. That said, we still ended up with a lot of vegetables and are still eating our way through the squash. Plus, I covered the carrots and arugula with straw, so we are still enjoying those-when they are not covered with snow!

We spent a lot of days at the farm this summer and fall as well. While I've gone now and again each year, I was paying more attention this year and really tried to focus on what was ripe and what was not. I usually just noticed a few things as being summer things, but this year I discovered what is ripe in our area in early summer and midsummer, versus late summer and early fall. I found it all fascinating.

I did read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this fall when I found it at the library. I'd seen other blogs mentioning it and thought it sounded interesting. The author's premise was to write about what she and her family experienced in a year spent growing most of there own food and only eating locally produced food, with rare exception. It was an okay book. Do I recommend it? Eh. I found the sections written by her daughter good and when she wrote about her trip to Italy, but otherwise, I found the book to be rather...flat. Just my opinion, yours may be different. I loved the idea behind it.

While it would be interesting to try the same idea, our life is different than hers. Our kids are little. My husband works outside of the home most of his waking hours. We live in a neighborhood with regular yards and lots of rules. We will be expanding our garden, nonetheless this year and adding in fruit and nut trees. I'm also looking at what we're planting with an mind towards canning and preserving. We want to make the most of what we've got.


Indoors, life also takes on a natural rhythm if we let it. I've begun praying the hours, using The Divine Hours, compiled by Phyllis Tickle. It's a contemporary Books of Hours used to guide Christians through what are known as the daily offices. Basically, it's praying through a series of prayers, mostly using the Psalms, four times a day. I've not managed to be so disciplined as to hit the half hour or hour marks on the prayer times, but at least I'm praying. :)

It's different and definitely more disciplined. This is a good thing. I find it works best when I just leave the book and my Bible on the kitchen table or on the counter since I'm constantly in the kitchen.

In trying to order my days better, I sat down with my new calendar, thank you Carey, over the New Year's weekend. My sister had made the family calendar with the basic family birthdays listed. I added to this list most of the birthdays of the rest of the family and my friends. I'm still collecting dates. I am planning on sending at least cards out, hopefully on time, this year to the people I care about so that they know I'm thinking about them.

I also added some other traditional Church Calendar dates, as well as dates celebrated over the centuries like Candlemas, Grandparents Day and May Day; things I often only remember too late to celebrate. I was given a Tasha Tudor book that she wrote about the various things her family did to celebrate each month. We'll be trying out a few new things this year! I was also given Mrs. Sharp's Traditions which is just filled with so many WONDERFUL ideas!!!! I've added all sorts of fun things to our calendar. Want to join me for a taffy pull this month? How about a Cupid's Tea to create Valentines together next month?

I am looking forward to some new adventures and creating some wonderful new traditions for our family and friends this year. Care to join me?

"He has made everything beautiful in its time."

Now, I want to see the beauty of each thing--in its time.

(The next post I'm working on will have a ton of links for some of the things I've mentioned in this post and the Reflections post. Please leave a comment if there is something specific you'd like more information on. )


Bonnie said...

A Time to Keep- one of, if not my absolute favorite Tasha books!
My brothers, cousins and I put on a marionette show one July 4th after I read it, and that book was my constant companion through all the crafting of the puppets and backdrops.
And while I'm on the subject of Tasha, Becky's birthday is great too- I was bummed my birthday was in March instead of the summer, I wanted a party like hers!
I'm loving all your simple living posts, very inspiring and thought provoking! Oh, lovely tablecloth-good job!

Carrie at dumptrucksandteacups said...

I'm really enjoying your simply living posts!! We've been reading Farmer Boy in school and it is amazing to look at how different life is now... there are those things that I appreciate, such as electricity, but there is so much that we have lost.

As far as something specific - what are your favorite books for living simply? Websites? Could you share your recipes for cleaning solutions? I'm sure I could go on and on...

Sending love,


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