Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 2, number 4
February 21, 2004 Mid-Spring Harmony
- My Season: Spring Color
- Living in Season: The Pleasure of Lent
- The Green Easter Egg
- A Writer's Request: Spring Stories
- Signs of Spring
- Subscribe - Unsubscribe
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My Season: Early Spring Color
It's definitely spring here in Seattle. The magnolia tree down the block is covered with big fuzzy buds and the rhododendron bushes are covered with buds as well-they look like fat green candle flames. The deciduous trees have that flush of red near the tips that signifies new growth and the quince is beginning to bloom (that's 9 days earlier than 1996 according to my records). Everything seems early here. The daffodils are blooming as well, along with purple and yellow crocuses, white snow drops and tiny purple irises.
The newsletter is a little shorter than usual because I've been pouring much of my creative energy into making art (I'm taking a collage class) and my new novel which is set in 1642, during the English Civil Wars. It's a time period I learned to love by reading The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge, a gorgeous, old-fashioned and lyrical historical novel.
Living in Season: the Pleasure of Lent
In Some of you know that I am a big advocate of Lent, which may seem strange, if you think of Lent only as a time of austerity and deprivation. While my affection for Lent is partially due to my Catholic childhood, it also stems from my belief that Lent is a seasonal holiday.
The word Lent itself comes from the same root words as "to lengthen" and refers to the hours of daylight that lengthen during the season. Lent also falls during that period of rapid growth which is a characteristic of early spring.
Here are some ideas that might help you appreciate
Lent as a seasonal festival:
1) Lent coincides with a period of deprivation in Nature. For people living in a completely natural environment, this is the time of the year when the food that was stored through the winter is running out or spoiling. I still remember my herbal teacher, Eaglesong, describing the joy with which her children greeted the first greens of the season when they were living off the land up in the Okanogan wilderness. Those first greens were a treat-full of the life, vitality and freshness of spring. Eating lightly during Lent may have had survival value at one time; it's also a good way to shed the sluggishness and extra pounds put on during winter.
2) Think of Lent as a purification process, a clearing out like spring cleaning. This is when the Greeks celebrated the lesser Eleusinian Mysteries which were a preparation for the actual initiation which took place in the Fall. This is also the time when early Christians prepared for Baptism at Easter. By clearing out what is no longer necessary (a bad habit, a time-wasting activity, maybe the contents of your closet) you make room for something new.
3) Lent is a time of rapid, visible and dramatic growth in the natural world, the force, as Dylan Thomas puts it, that through the green fuse drives the flower. So why not ally with this powerful force and use its energy to make changes in your life? Figure out what you want to change and give yourself the six weeks of Lent to try it out.
The good news is that Lent lasts for only 40 days, so you don't have to give something up forever, just six weeks. During previous Lents, I've given up sugar, coffee, dairy products, reading the newspaper and alcohol, none permanently, but I've always come away with new insight.
You don't have to give something up. You could use Lent to make positive changes, for instance, taking up meditation, or going to the gym, or practicing the piano every day. I have to admit (it must be the Catholic influence again) I find it easier to give things up than adopt new habits. This year I'm giving up TV (except for Joan of Arcadia, my favorite show-I figure I can justify watching it because any TV show in which God appears is probably appropriate for Lent).
Remember if you are going to give something up for Lent (and even if you're not) you can over-indulge on Mardi Gras (Tuesday, February 24) and on Easter (March 19th this year). In some countries, the middle Thursday in Lent, Mi-Careme, is another occasion for indulgence. This French tradition still survives in parts of Canada, and particularly four villages in Nova Scotia.
For a longer and juicier version of why I like Lent, read my article on Pagan Lent.
EagleSong teaches and sells herbs Ravencroft Garden.
Mi-Careme as celebrated in Nova Scotia.
The Green Easter Egg
Lucinda Herring, an educator and expert on festivals who lives on Whidbey Island has an interesting suggestions for celebrating the tide of early spring. Around Mardi Gras (or Imbolc), plant wheat berries in the shape of an egg in your garden. On the eve of Spring Equinox (or Easter), plant primroses among the green shoots where they will glow in the vivid colors of Easter eggs. Lucinda suggests letting the wheat grow and cutting it down in the autumn to use in harvest celebrations.
Lacking your own plot of land, you can easily grow wheat indoors. Buy wheat berries at your local health food store. Soak them overnight. Fill pots or shallow trays with potting soil (mixed with peat moss for good ventilation and drainage) and soak with water. Sprinkle the wheat berries over the top of the soil and cover (loosely) with plastic. On the fourth day, remove the plastic and water, then place them on a windowsill where they can get indirect light.
The fast growth of the wheat and the vibrant green are lovely emblems of spring. Of course, you can cut off the wheat grass (close to the roots) and eat it. Your cat and dog will love it if you set out a pot of wheat grass they can graze. And wheat grass, planted in the bottom of a basket lined with plastic, will make a nice substitute for that plastic Easter grass you find all over the house for days afterwards.
Lucinda Herring has a website where she sells packets of holiday information, which seem (judging by the sample file which I downloaded) to be aimed at kids, families and home-schoolers:
The instructions for growing wheat grass came from Donna Phillips here.
A Writer's Request: Spring Stories
Bruce Stutz, a writer working on a book about the nature of spring, is interested in hearing about interesting spring traditions, customs, or experiences. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Signs of Spring
Marion from Cincinnati reports that she hears the song of robins every morning now. If you've noticed any signs of the season, send them to me and I will post them on my website. See what others have posted at: See what others have posted here.
Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2003.
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