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Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 4, Number 4
April 21, 2006

Contents

  • Welcome
  • My Season: Post Lent Grace
  • Living in Season: Earth Day
  • What I'm Reading: More Bird Books
  • Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
  • Holiday Packet: May Day
  • Signs of Summer
  • Copyright
  • Subscribe - Unsubscribe

Welcome
Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. Please forward this newsletter if you enjoy it. 

If a friend send you this newsletter, welcome! You can subscribe for free at my website: www.schooloftheseasons.com or by sending an email to:
livinginseason-subscribe@schooloftheseasons.com
We never rent, sell or give away subscriber information.

My Season: Post Lent Grace
I’ve had a lovely six weeks without TV but I was looking forward to seeing my favorite shows again, now that Lent is over. The bad news is that so far they’ve all been repeats, so I have not yet managed to watch a single hour of TV. The good news is that I don’t miss it much. My life has been much more relaxing and slower-paced without TV.

Those of you who’ve been reading this newsletter for a while know that I’ve been struggling to find the rhythm in my life after accepting a part-time job, as the Finance Manager of a small writing center in Seattle, where I also teach writing classes. During the past two weeks, my part-time job became a full-time job as we had undertaken a full-scale audit to straighten out a myriad of nagging problems from the past. To my surprise, adding more to my schedule actually helped me find my rhythm. Instead of fighting with my schedule, trying to cram in all the tasks I want to do, I simply surrendered. And as usual when I surrender, grace appears.

Strolling home from work after an eight hour day, I knew I didn’t have to make myself work any more, even though there were plenty of tasks waiting for me at home. And since I wasn’t watching TV the first week, I didn’t fill up my time with mindless chatter as I would have before Lent. I had much more time for reading, for writing, for talking to friends, for hanging out with my daughter. All lovely.

I’m also working on a prototype version of a planner, based on the Calendar Companion, that I hope to sell via the web site some day soon. It’s an interesting format, with a lot more white space than my usual planner (which is full of lines that I usually fill up) and I like the sense of abundance it brings into my life.

May you find more space in the time of your life,
Waverly Fitzgerald

Living in Season: Earth Day
While working on my latest detective novel, which has a back story straight out of the Sixties in Seattle, I read a description of the first Earth Day in Seattle on April 22nd, 1970. The idea was conceived by a Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, who announced it at a conference in Seattle in September of 1969, inspired by the success of the many grass roots movements of the Sixties, including the teach-ins of the anti-war movement. On that first Earth Day, an estimated ten million school children, as well as college students, took part in activities designed to raise awareness of environmental issues, and Congress adjourned for the day. In Seattle, three thousand people flocked to the Seattle Center, to watch films, listen to speeches, look at displays and collect signatures and money to support environmental issues.

I don’t usually recommend purely secular or political holidays — hey don’t have the mystery or the sensual appeal of the ancient seasonal holidays — but I make an exception for Earth Day which upholds the same values as School of the Seasons. If we were truly living in harmony with the Earth, we would be living in seasonal time, which is also biological time.

Earth Day replaced an older holiday, Arbor Day, which was also a secular holiday, created by Julius Sterling Morton, who in 1883 convinced the Nebraska legislators to establish a holiday dedicated to planting trees and increasing awareness of the importance of trees. It was originally celebrated on April 22nd (Morton’s birthday) but has now been shifted, most often to the last Friday in April. Here’s a list of state trees and the date Arbor Day is celebrated in various states:
www.arbor-day.net/arbor-day-state-dates.htm

Another web site provides dates on which Arbor Day is celebrated around the world:
www.arborday.org/arborday/arbordaydatesinternational.cfm

Most of these seem to be government-sponsored holidays often wrapped in a cloak of civic pride that takes all of the fun out of a holiday.

Here are a few more fun ways to celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day Dinner
This is an idea sponsored by Organic Valley, makers of organic foods, for celebrating Earth Day with friends, enjoying a meal of organic, seasonal and local foods. They also make beautiful Earth Day cards which can be used at the dinner table to stir up conversation about the importance of slow meals and special foods. Go to this link to see the cards and get ideas for the meal:
www.earthdinner.org

And this year they are also pairing with local restaurants to sponsor special meals that fit the theme. Check this list to see if there is a restaurant in your area:
www.earthdinner.org/recipes/index.html

Google Earth
After your Earth Day dinner, invite your guests to spend a few hours playing with Google Earth. This is a program designed by the Google folks which you can download to your computer. It allows you to type in any address (or intersection or prominent landmark) and zoom in for an aerial view of the landscape.

I got hooked on Google Earth during the time I was deprived of television. It’s a much more satisfying visual medium as you can interactively explore the crater of Mt St. Helen’s or the Grand Canyon, floating like a bird above these three-dimensional landscapes. The city scapes are a little less exciting (although some of them are three-dimensional) but most, since they’re based on satellite pictures are rather flat, and one roof looks pretty much like another.

My favorite part of Google Earth is the way it insists on giving you a global view of things. If you type in the Eiffel Tower while you’re looking at the roof of your apartment building in Seattle, suddenly you zoom up, and across the globe, flying across continents and oceans until you end up in Paris, floating above the Eiffel Tower. It gives you a heartfelt sense of the way we’re all connected and how beautiful our world is.

Google Earth has lots of built in features, including manipulations to the images so you can zoom in or out and tilt the plane at which you’re viewing things. It can also be annotated to create personal maps (I have not yet fully explored this feature but can imagine it would be great for creating a geographic memoir, an annotated life story or a family history.)

Google Maps
This web site lists innovative ways people have used Google maps to present stories and data:
www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/essential-resources-for-google-maps.html
 
One of my favorites is this annotated walking tour of Keene, New Hampshire by Jon Udell, which uses a Google map, videos, a sound recording and still photgraphs (you do not need to download Google Earth to see this one):
weblog.infoworld.com/udell/gems/gmap2_flash.html
 

References:
Wilma, David, “Earth Day First Observed in Seattle on April 22, 1970,”
www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=2233

What I'm Reading: More Bird Books
I should have mentioned these books in the last newsletter when I was raving about Why Birds Sing by David Rothenberg. Here are a few of the marvelous bird books I’ve read in the past years.

One Man’s Owl, Princeton University Press 1993

Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Observations with Wolf-Birds, Harper Perennial 2000

Ravens in Winter, Vintage 1991
Bernd Heinrich

All three of these books are by one of my favorite nature writers: Bernd Heinrich. He combines impeccable scientific observation with deep appreciation for the bonds that can develop between humans and wild animals. He has written two marvelous books about ravens, based on watching them in the woods and observing the interactions of a group of young crows he raised in a large aviary attached to his cabin in the Maine woods. But my favorite of his books is the story of Bubo, the Horned Owl, who is deemed incorrigible by a Raptor Rehabilitation Center but who Heinrich teaches how to hunt and is able to release back into the wild. Heinrich can also craft an elegant sentence although he never lets it get in the way of his subject matter, unlike Chris Chester.
 
Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds
By Chris Chester, Anchor 2004
An even more amazing story of the human-bird connection comes from Portland writer, Chris Chester. It’s a memoir which begins when he adopts an abandoned sparrow fledging, an act of kindness that blossoms into obsession as Chris and his wife turn the top floor of their home into an aviary which eventually houses  several other sparrows and some finches. The writing is absolutely delightful, playful and witty, but full of itself, often romping around, like the creatures it describes, for the sheer joy of doing so.
 
The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession

By Mark Obmascik, Free Press 2005
This book is, in many ways, the opposite of the first two. It chronicles the travels and tribulations of a trio of birders who are competing for the title of most species of birds seen in North America in a single year. For them, the birds are simply numbers to be checked off on a list, in somewhat the same way participants in the Amazing Race don’t really get to experience the countries they race through. But you’ve got to enjoy the absolute devotion with which they pursue their passion.

Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
I'm happy to announce that I'm offering a second year of the Calendar Companion. 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.

Round Two: If you've already been receiving the Calendar Companion, please note that I will be writing new material as well as repeating some of your favorites from last year.

$20 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.

Holiday Packet: May Day
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.

The print version is $14; please allow 10 days for delivery. An email version is also available for $9. It will be sent to you as an attached Word file within 24 hours. Order in our Store.

Signs of Summer
The lilacs are blooming in Seattle, and so are the woodruffs. I like to wear a wreath of lilacs in my hair for May Day and put the woodruff into May wine.

Send me your news of the season and I will post it on my web site under Signs of the Season.

Copyright
Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2006
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.

Getting On and Off the List
To subscribe, send an email to:
livinginseason-subscribe@schooloftheseasons.com
To unsubscribe, send an email to:
livinginseason-leave@schooloftheseasons.com


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