Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons
April 7, 2008
My Season: Spring Changes
Slow Time Book News
• New Chapter: Night and Day
Living in Season: Slow Travel
School of the Seasons Offerings:
• May Day Holiday Packet
• Calendar Companion
Signs of Spring
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Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life.
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Seasonal Quote: George Santayana
To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.
My Season: Spring Changes
This has been the most difficult spring of my life. Right now my daughter is in the hospital, my brother is in the hospital and my best friend is awaiting the results of tests for some pretty serious symptoms. All of this began around the Ides of March and I’m desperately hoping that the new moon of April 5 in Aries, the sign of new beginnings, might signal a turn towards the positive.
Meanwhile I am flipping back and forth between hope and despair, with about as much predictability as the recent weather in Seattle: we’ve had snow and sun, hail and rain and everything in between. Nonetheless, the flowers are not confused. Cherry trees are blooming in froths of pink and white, trees are unfurling their first flush of chartreuse leaves, and the perfume of the viburnum and clematis scent the air.
I actually went to the emergency room myself last week, with chest pain and shortness of breath. It was only when I was describing my symptoms to the nurse in terms of my yoga class that I remembered doing head stands with more vigor than usual in my last class. Sure enough, my EKG was perfect, and I went home realizing I had nothing more than a pulled muscle. I hope all the apparent crises happening around me will resolve so easily.
May the changes of spring bring growth to your life,
Updated April Calendar
April contains many marvelous holidays including Flower Festival, Songkran, Cerealia, Passover, St. George, Orthodox Easter and, of course, Walpurgisnacht (also known as May Eve). For more information and more holidays go to: www.schooloftheseasons.com/april.html
New Slow Time Book News
The Slow Time book is slowly climbing up the ranks at Lulu, my print-on-demand publisher. (Last month it had just broken into the top 1,000; now it’s at 805!)
You can order it directly from Lulu here.
On the other hand it sank at Amazon, from 404,077 to 530,801, despite two great reviews from Janis Wildy and Sandy Guderyon. If you liked the book, please consider writing a review. It doesn’t have to be long. Here's the Amazon link.
The Slow Time book is slowly climbing up the ranks at Lulu, my print-on-demand publisher. (It just broke into the top 1,000 last week and is still climbing, whereas at Amazon it's 404,077.)
If you're willing to take this process slowly, I'm posting the chapters, one a month, on the Slow Time book website. The third chapter is still up but on April 10, it will be gone and the fourth chapter, “Night and Day,” will be posted here:
Quote: Pico Iyer
We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world .... And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again -- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.
Living in Season: Slow Travel
Lately there’s been a spate of interest in Slow, a good thing for my book, Slow Time. It all began with Slow Food, the movement started by Carlo Petrini to counteract fast food and fast life and which has spread across the globe. Recently I’ve also heard of Slow Medicine (which involves health practitioners taking time to talk to patients), Slow Schools (like home schooling) Slow Design (as featured at slowlab.org), and Slow Marketing (that is connecting one-on-one with the people from whom you purchase food or goods) and Slow Travel.
Perhaps the most intriguing is Slow Travel, which seems an appropriate topic for April, the month when, according to Chaucer, folks long to go on pilgrimages. I know that I am currently dreaming about my next big vacation: a trip to either Sicily or Wales.
There is a whole web site devoted to slow travel
The site advocates staying in one place for at least a week, preferably in a vacation rental (a cottage, a villa, an apartment) so that one can shop at local stores, eat at local restaurants and get to know what it is actually like to live in the place you are visiting. Although it seems tempting when you’ve traveled far to cram in as many of the sights as possible, it’s a greedy attitude that eventually leaves you feeling empty, like fast food.
This type of travel seems especially European to me, perhaps because I know of many Europeans who travel like this: renting a villa with friends, spending the week cooking dinners with seasonal food and enjoying local wines. The American equivalent, I suppose, is the cabin in the mountains or house at the lake or cottage on the beach, those lazy days when there is nothing to do but eat and read books, sit in the sun and do jigsaw puzzles.
I still have fond memories of a family vacation to Mammoth Lakes when it rained almost the whole time we were there and my mother read Winnie the Pooh stories to us. Quite different from other family vacations which involved marathon trips across the United States, staying in a different city every night and eating in coffee shops like Dennys. Those involved a cranky father (he had to drive), a flustered mother (she had to navigate), a sister who got very sick, and lots of arguments about who was crossing over the imaginary line drawn down the middle of the back seat.
I imagine that volunteer vacations, where you are helping build a house (as Habitat for Humanity does www.habitat.org) or other participatory trips, where you are learning a language or helping with an archaeological dig qualify as Slow Travel.
Study tours can be another way to have a slow trip. The last time I was in Europe was on a six-week study tour to Wales, sponsored by a local community college. We stayed in a shabby old seaside resort hotel which had been converted into dorms for the University of Wales at Aberystwyth; my window looked out over the boardwalk and the bay. We were in class four days a week, being regaled with history and poetry by professors from the University, which helped root us to the place. Although many of us traveled on the weekends, we spent a lot of time in town. I got to know the aisles of the local grocery store, became knowledgeable about different brands of biscuits, found the best fish and chips in town, even got a library card.
Slow Travel can also describe the method of transportation you use. The slowest form of transportation is walking (did you know that April 16 is National Walk Day?). We speed up as we move through biking, taking buses, taking trains, driving and flying. Seattle residents, John Daughters and Cathy Lykes, wrote about traveling from Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula on public transportation. By doing some research ahead of time, they were able to plan an easy bus trip that dropped them off within a few feet of various accommodations, including a luxurious lodge. The whole trip took several days and transportation cost only $8. But even more precious than the money saved, was the sense of relaxation and adventure that came from taking the bus and walking when they arrived at their destinations.
Daughters and Lykes also wrote about slow trips they made by car down the length of the Nisqually River, to get a watershed view of history and geography of that river basin, and another trip, where they got an overview of Northwest forest history, while traversing the Wind River Road between Mt. St. Helens and the Columbia River. In these trips, the trip itself was the slow part, as they were not heading for destinations, but rather seeing what showed up along the way.
Slow Travel allows you to experience Slow Time while you are away from home. Consider planning your own Slow Travel experience for this month or this year.
Daughters, John and Cathy Lykes,
The concept of Slow Marketing comes from a blog by Evelyn Rodriguez
The Shaw Guides (www.shawguides.com) list many learning opportunities abroad.
May Day Holiday Packet
“May Day is rich in customs, perhaps more so than any other day of the year.” So says the Oxford Companion to the Year. If you are interested in learning about some of these customs, order my May Day packet, an illustrated portfolio of over 30 pages which includes:
- Ancient traditions of Floralia, Beltane & May Day
- Instructions for creating a Maypole and dancing around it
- Recipes for May wine and other traditional May Day foods
- Special May Day divinations and songs
- The language of the flowers
- Ideas for May Day gifts.
It is available in an email version for $10 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery).
Order through our Store.
Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
This is a graceful way to incorporate spirit and seasons into your life. Use it along with your usual planning tools and calendar to help you:
- Slow time down
- Consult your soul while creating your schedule
- Make time for what's truly important in your life
- Move in rhythm with the seasons and the moon
Every week for 52 weeks you will receive a brief email with a reflection on the qualities of the present time period and one suggestion, task or question that you can savor throughout the week.
Start whenever you like. When you order the Calendar Companion, you will receive the next week's calendar companion, along with an introductory email.
$26 for a year's worth of gentle reminders to help you stay aligned with natural rhythms. To order or to see a sample reflection, click here.
Signs of Spring
JoAnn from Astoria, New York reports on her signs of spring:
My first signs of Spring this year was a baby partridge bird on my doorstep, a tree budding in front of the school where I teach and the most telltale sign of all: The Mr. Softee Ice Cream truck selling ice cream in the neighborhood! I was delighted to see the bird and the tree, but to hear the song of the ice cream truck was the truest sign of the season for me here in Astoria, New York!
What’s happening where you live? Do you see any signs of spring yet?
Where ever you live, send me your signs of the season and I will post them on the website at Signs of the Season. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, or you wish to update your profile, please click below.
Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2008
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