Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons
May 14, 2008
Seasonal Quote: Folk Remedy for May
My Season: My Melancholy May
Slow Time Book News
Two Chapters Up
Living in Season: Enough
School of the Seasons Offerings:
Summer School of the Seasons Course
Summer Natural Planner
Signs of Summer
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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: Folk Remedy
Garlic with May butter
Cureth all disease
Drink of goat's white milk
Take along with these
This is an early Irish poem, from A Taste Of Ireland: Irish Traditional Foods by Theodora Fitzgibbon, published by Houghton Mifflin 1969
My Season: Melancholy May
Spring Equinox ushered in six weeks of the most intense changes I've ever experienced.
My brother was hospitalized after breaking his neck in a fall in his home (possibly due to intoxication). It took him two days to crawl to a phone and call for help. I sent him a rather blasphemous postcard quoting from my favorite childhood Easter hymn: "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Like the sun from out the wave. He has risen up in triumph from the darkness of the grave." I hoped to acknowledge that he had been through a near-death experience and could seize the opportunity for a new life.
Shortly thereafter my daughter had a breakdown which was a blessing in disguise as it led to a series of medical interventions that gave her a new understanding and vision for her life. For six weeks, I grappled with oppressive systems (health care, insurance) although she was the one in the underworld. Now she is in a brand new world, one that still has its sharp edges.
Unfortunately, my brother did not make it out of the underworld. He returned home where he fell again and this time he did not make the phone call that would save him. I can only find comfort in believing that he is at peace.
The news arrived on May Day and cast a pall over the holiday, though I've always felt there's an ominous undercurrent under the revelry of May. I especially felt that this year as I threw a wreath of birch branches and cherry blossoms into the lagoon in memory of my brother during an impromptu May ceremony with friends.
My life has been calmer since May Day and I hope to find ease and even pleasure in the summer.
May your summer be filled with joy,
Updated May Calendar
The May calendar has been up since the first of the month. You will find many holidays to celebrate in May including the Birthday of the Buddha, the start of Rusalka Week, Corpus Christi, Lag B'Omer, Hamster Memorial Day, Tomato Release Day and a new entry on St Joan of Arc.
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 was at 805, now it's at 706!)
You can order it directly from Lulu here.
If you'd rather read my Slow Time book slowly, I'm posting the chapters, one a month, on the Slow Time book website. The fourth chapter, "Night and Day" was late being posted in April so I'm leaving it up while I also post the fifth chapter, "The Week Begins." So this month you get two free chapters, instead of just one to read. Download either one or both at:
But be quick! Both will come down at the end of the month and the sixth chapter on the moon will be up at the start of June.
Living in Season: Enough
A few months ago a friend told me about her friend, a free lance technical writer, who sets an income goal at the start of every year, then stops working when she earns that much. One year she might work through November, another year through July. I immediately loved this idea, although it's not one I can apply to my financial life. Yet it intrigued me because it was based on the concept of knowing what's "enough."
The latest issue of Orion contains a fascinating article by Jeffrey Kaplan about the creation of the consumer mentality in America. In 1927 Secretary of Labor James J. Davis was concerned about "needs saturation." Textile factories could produce all the cloth needed in six months and 14% of all shoe factories could produce a year's worth of shoes. (At first I thought this sounded incredible, but then I remembered what I learned doing research for my Victorian novels. Most people wore the same clothes over and over again and probably only owned one pair of shoes).
Unfortunately this situation was seen as a threat by manufacturers, who got into the business of creating needs through advertising. President Herbert Hoover's 1929 Committee on Recent Economic Changes noted "we have a boundless field before us; that there are new wants which will make way endlessly for newer wants, as fast as they are satisfied."
Kaplan notes that machines can save us labor, as long as we stop working when we produce enough of what we need. That's the key question: how much do we need? Kaplan notes that per capita spending per household in 2005 is twelve times what it was in 1929. If as a culture we made a decision to get by on what we used to produce and consume 17 years ago, we could reduce hours worked from 40 to 5.3 hours a day, and even less if we returned to the 1948 level.
Of course, this is the goal of the Simple Living movement, which proposes a number of strategies for living a value-driven life. There are two ways to have more money in your life: one is to earn more, the other is to spend less. The Simple Living movement tends to focus on the latter, by asking and answering the question: what is enough?
In my life, the issue of "enough" most often surfaces in regards to time. Recently I've been asking myself, "What's enough?" How much time do I need to do my writing? (It turns out I can comfortably write a complete essay in a couple of weeks working fifteen minutes a day.)
The concept of "enough" comes in handy when relating to clutter and possessions; What's enough clothes? How about "enough" books? (Hint: I don't think one can ever have "enough" books but I do believe I have "enough" magazinesóI have a stack of unread magazines at least 4 feet high). And although I know I have enough shoes, I'm not sure I will ever have enough socks. The interesting thing about the concept of "enough" is that it is totally personal. It's based on an inner sense of security, but just asking the question seems to move me out of a sense of scarcity and into one of abundance.
I've also been applying the concept of "enough" to success. What is "enough" success? Is it enough that my writing is instantly published on the Internet? That my blog is read by an average of 75 readers a day? That my newsletter goes out to over 5,000 readers every month? That I've sold over 700 copies of my Slow Time book?
I think I've always imagined that fame would look different than it really does. I've never wanted to be on Oprah (but, hey, Oprah, if you want me, I am totally happy to talk about Slow Time!). I've never wanted to criss-cross the country giving workshops in hotel rooms, or even beautiful retreat centers (though I wouldn't mind doing a one week retreat some place warm and relaxing, like Italy or Mexico).
It occurs to me now that maybe this life I've chosen, this quiet life of writing what I want, of being well known in small circles, of having many good friends, of having enough money to live on but not much left over, of living in a very small and book-cluttered apartment in the middle of a lively city environment, maybe this is my perfect life. Maybe I've achieved the success I've always wanted and have just failed to notice it. Maybe I do have enough of everything.
Where do you feel you don't have enough? What would "enough" look like?
Kaplan, Jeffrey, "The Gospel of Consumption," Orion, May/June 2008
Midsummer Holiday Packet
This illustrated portfolio contains over 40 pages of ideas for celebrating Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, Herb Evening, St. John's Day and Litha. It tells you how to:
- gather and use magical Midsummer herbs like St John's Wort
- prepare a picnic of traditional Midsummer foods
- use the petals of roses to make conserves, butter and rosaries
- create Gardens of Adonis
- and much more.
You can read an excerpt from the packet on making wreaths (a traditional way to celebrate Midsummer) at this link:
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.
Summer Correspondence Course
Thanks to popular demand, I'm offering the Summer School of the Seasons course available again.
The class lasts for nine weeks and begins the first week in June. You will receive a packet of information each week, providing information on various summer activities and suggesting tasks and projects that will help you interact with the natural world where you live, create a magic wand, celebrate Midsummer and Lammas, preserve the fruits of summer (in jams, chutneys, mead, sorbets, etc.), adopt a plant ally, gather magical herbs and make lavender wands.
Each week, I ask you to skim over or read thoroughly the material you receive, decide which of the tasks I suggest appeals to you or make up your own project, and report on what you are planning to do at our online class forum.
To enjoy all the benefits of the course, plan to devote at least three hours a week to your studies, which includes reading the weekly lesson, carrying out an activity and posting to the list serve. Because this is a summer course, I realize some of you might go on vacation. Don't worry. You can catch up later, and, if you have access to email while you're gone, we'll enjoy your travel reports.
Enrollment is limited to twelve students.
The cost is $99 for nine weeks.
To order, go to:
You can also receive the packets without enrolling in the class. I will send a Word document containing each week's lesson each week for nine weeks, beginning with the first week in June.
The cost for this option is $66
To order, go to:
Summer Natural Planner
For a simpler, more personalized way of working with the season, you might be interested in the Summer version of the Natural Planner. This is essentially a set of worksheets and calendar pages you can use to identify the important themes and tasks you wish to accomplish during the season. Each month (for the months of May through August) you receive new calendar and theme pages to adapt to your life and you have the opportunity to post your commitments and results on a private blog created for the class. The cost is $40. To enroll, go to:
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 Summer
The hawthorn trees are finally blooming here in Seattle. I love the way they look from a distance. They remind me of my grandmother's chenille bedspread. The black locusts are just leafing out. And the irises are beginning to bloom. I am in love with their elegant forms and dark, sweet scents.
Are you seeing any signs of summer where you live?
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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