The Joy of Living by the Seasons

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When global shipping became an everyday convenience most of us stopped living seasonally. In many ways, seasons were a burden on our ancestors. Making it through winters and dry spells required careful planning and preserving. Now, there’s almost nothing the modern family has to do to prepare for a change of season– other than own the correct outdoor clothes.

Do you fight the seasons?

During my childhood, my mother was at war with the seasons. Each winter she would heat the house hotter than she’d ever allow it to be in the summer. Then, in August, I had to wear a sweater in the house to combat the deep chill. Neither did our meals differ as the seasons changed. In the peak of summer, my mother would make chilli and other rich, heavy food. In December she would make salads– the price of lettuce shipped from the tropics be damned.

Some yearly changes were marked, of course, but they were celebrated as days, not seasons. Christmas was a day, and almost the only day my father would allow a Christmas tree to stand. Easter was a day, and the meal looked much like a Thanksgiving dinner arriving in spring. Tradition on these days was regularly tossed aside, limited, or changed. I’ve seen so many people live like this.

What does this conflict with the seasons get us? Why limit the influence of the time of year to a single day, a holiday, every few months? While not many would choose to live entirely by the seasons (preserving is, after all, an attempt to eat out of season) there is a richer, happier calendar to experience when you live somewhat by their push and pull.

The benefits of living by the seasons

My home does not give me chills in the summer and I can’t wear shorts in the house in the winter. I’m not just saving money on cooling and heating, I’m making my transition outside smoother.  At this time of year, the cool air puts me in the mood for the comfort of hot, rich food. It puts me in the mood to bake fresh bread and send warmth through the house.

Meals in the fall are full of choice. There are no spring leftovers, but there are summer crops and end-of-summer foods like squashes. The thick, warm food of the fall is on my dinner table including soups, stews, and chilis. At one point, I’ll tap into my reserves of canned and preserved food, but not quite yet, at least not for those living at my latitude.  There’s not much greens or eggs in our diet. Those are things to look forward to. The calendar is full of joy for the moment and anticipation of what’s to come too.

Some have even suggested that eating seasonally is healthier. Consider Preston Maring, M.D., who told Eating Well that shopping at a farmer’s market inspires you to eat more vegetables.

“Think what would happen if more people shopped for their food at farmers’ markets—eating the fruits and vegetables as they become ripe each season,” Maring said. “People would discover just how good fresh produce can be—apricots that are picked ripe are so much tastier and more nutritious than those that have to be picked hard to endure shipping,”

The funny thing is, people want to live this way, they just don’t think about it when making their daily decisions. Starbucks, with its pumpkin spice season, and Cadbury, with their spring sale of chocolate eggs, have tapped into this. There’s a certain joy in getting a treat you rarely indulge in the rest of the year. There’s warmth in pumpkin spice lattes in the chill of fall, and symbolic value in eating even chocolate eggs at the start of spring.

More ideas for the seasons

But, diet isn’t the only way to live more seasonally. Dress, of course, changes with the seasons already. Home décor, chores, and hobbies can shift with the time of year as well. Even your frame of mind can shift, from a focus on reflection in the winter to a focus on growth and new challenges in the spring.

You can expect that posts from Young Domestics will help you see new opportunities to live by the seasons.

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