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Living in Season Newsletter

Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 2, Number 8
May 12, 2004, Twilight Time


  • Welcome
  • Warning: Spoofed Email
  • My Season: Worms and Caterpillars
  • Living in Season: May Flowers
  • Seasonal Craft: Distilling Flower Essences
  • Signs of Summer: What Blooms in May Where You Live?
  • Summer in the School of the Seasons
  • Copyright
  • Subscribe - Unsubscribe

Welcome to my periodical newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward 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:
We never rent, sell or give away subscriber information.

Warning: Spoofed Email
This newsletter is about a late because of the unfortunate incident of the computer virus.

As some of you already know, on April 29th my email address was "spoofed" (forged and used as a return address) by a computer virus which then sent a message to my mailing list, including an attachment which contained a virus. To make matters worse, within a day a second spurious email with an infected attachment went out.

Fortunately most of you have anti-virus software which warned you about the problem; some of you, like me, never received the email because your Internet service provider screened it out as a security risk.

Since we didn't know what was happening, my webmistress shut down the mailing list altogether, which meant I couldn't send you a warning either. Unfortunately our system administrator was out of town, celebrating Beltane (he had a good time, I think).

The mailing list was not compromised, neither was my computer, or the server on which the mailing list is kept. As far as I can tell (I'm still researching the issue), the virus got the information about how to send an email message to my list from a newsletter sitting in the mailbox of an infected computer. We had included that information in the newsletter, so you could trace back the newsletter to its source-an important point for those of us who send group emails that are not spam. (Spammers always disguise or forge their addresses so they can't be found.) Unfortunately, the virus used that same information to wreak its reign of terror.

We have now set up stricter security controls and my systems administrator is 99.9% sure it will not happen again. The slight margin of error allows for the increasing sophistication of the robots that troll the web trying to harvest email addresses.

Please note: I will never send out email with an attached file. Every newsletter should have a unique message in the subject line — something seasonal, not something official sounding like "msg reply" or "your complaint."

If you don't have antivirus software, many vendors provide free trials for 30 days or offer a free scan of your computer as well as the tools you need to remove any viruses found. Here are two programs I tried before I decided to purchase my current program:

If you have any concerns about this, please let me know. I have been very distressed. It is terrible to be the innocent instrument of spreading harm. I have to say, the good side of all this has been my renewed confidence in your support. Only a few people unsubscribed (and I can totally understand why — your safety and privacy are priceless) and I got many sympathetic messages informing me of the problem and offering condolences and suggestions.

Thanks for being so understanding and supportive.

My Season: Flowers and Caterpillars
I'm noticing this year that summer doesn't just bring flowers but also pests: the tent caterpillars have arrived. All weekend we saw them crawling along the sidewalks in Seattle and the white tents they create on the tips of the branches of birches and the fruit trees.

One of the gardeners in my community garden described a scene on Whidbey Island which resembled a horror movie: acres of trees shrouded in white and the quiet night filled with a sibilance created by hundreds of caterpillars chewing. The emergence of the tent caterpillars happened at the same time as the visitation of the computer worm, and left me with the same feelings of uneasiness and disgust.

On a more positive note, we're experiencing an extraordinary flowering season here in Seattle. Everything showed up early. Right now we're starting to see the flowers I associate with the height of summer: peonies and poppies, roses and lavender.

Living in Season: Flowers of May
In the old British system of reckoning the season, Summer begins on May 1st, or when the hawthorn (also known as the May tree) blooms. The person who found the first sprig of flowering hawthorn would bring it into the village (thus bringing in the May) and setting into motion all of the festivities associated with the start of summer: dancing, drinking, feasting, playing games, and frolicking in the woods.

I'm always watching as May first approaches for the flowers I associate with May Day. The hawthorn usually blooms here around May 1st but it was about three weeks early this year (last year it was a week late). The famous ship the Mayflower was named after the hawthorn. It is often planted as a hedgerow in England where the thorns create an impenetrable barrier. May trees also are found beside almost every sacred well in Ireland, with bits of cloth tied to their branches representing wishes.

Lily of the valley (convollaria) is the flower of May Day in France where it is a typical gift of the season. Any wish made while carrying it comes true. In Seattle, the lily of the valley was also early this year.I found the first blooms on April 23, when that intensely sweet fragrance stopped me in my tracks while walking around the block with Chester the dog. Laura Martin in her book on garden folklore says that lily of the valley is the fifth things every bride should carry (after something old, new, borrowed and blue). According to her, the Dutch say that every newly married couple should plant lily of the valley in their first garden. And each year when the plant blooms (around May Day), the couple should renew their love (she doesn't specify how).

Lilacs are my reliable standby for filling the house with fragrance on May Day. They are usually at their peak on May Eve in Seattle. In Ireland, Beltane is the only safe day for wearing lilacs, although I'm not sure why. I like to wear a wreath in my hair when dancing around the Maypole.

Of course, I can't forget sweet woodruff (galium odoratum) which is used to flavor May wine. In Seattle, this lovely ground cover with its bright green leaves that radiate out from a central stalk is always sprinkled with tiny white starry flowers by May 1st. I love the vanilla scent released by the leaves as they dry; I have a basket full drying right now on top of the radiator. It is used to flavor May wine but it also has a reputation for provoking lechery, which may be another reason for its association with May Day.

Laura Martin, Garden Flower Folklore, Globe Pequot Press, Chester Connecticut 06412, 1987
The Herbal Almanack by Linda Ours Rago, Fulcrum Publishing

Summer Crafts: Flower Essences
If you don't know anything about flower essences, you might want to e plore them during the flowery month of May. The modern flower essences, available in most health food stores, were first developed by a British physician and homeopath, Dr. Edward Bach, who created them to treat the emotional states that were associated with physical diseases. He developed 38 flower remedies which are prescribed for symptoms like guilt, apathy and indecision. For more information about Bach, click here.

Although Bach was the first to popularize flower remedies, they became wildly popular in the 1980's and many people created their own flower essences, especially working with native and local plants (Bach's remedies were mainly derived from flowers available to him in England).

Bach used two methods to make flower essences: setting flowers in water in the sun so the water could absorb the flower's essence and boiling the plant materials in water. T. Darlene Cheek, in an article at Suite 101, explains how to make traditional Bach essences using these methods.

Suzy Chiazzari offers several interesting case studies in her web article on flowers and healing. She asks her clients to choose a flower which is attractive to them and then uses that flower to "read" and treat them. For instance, a children's clothing designer who was healing slowly after a benign lump was removed from her breast, chose a pink rose as her flower. After taking a rose essence and using massage oil that contained roses on the scar, she improved quickly.

The technique of healing with flowers is not new. According to one source, Tibetan monks offered flower baths as part of a healing ritual, and one of my favorite herbalists, Michael Tierra, wrote a glowing description of a ritual flower bath he experienced as provided by a medicine woman in the Amazon.

You could combine these two notions, choosing flowers that call to you and floating them in bath water in which you immerse yourself. Or for a simpler version, simply steep some edible flowers in water for a few hours in the sun, drink them, and notice the difference.

Signs of Summer: The Blooms of May
What blooms where you live in May?

What flowers and plants signal the beginning of Summer to you?

Send me the signs of summer where you live, and I will post them on my website.

Summer is A-Coming In
If it feels like Summer where you live, the Summer correspondence course is now available. (Of course, you can also order any season out of season, if you like). For a list of topics and the subjects covered by each one, click here.

Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2004.
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.

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