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Living in Season from Waverly Fitzgerald

Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons

October 11, 2006


My Season: Hibernating Blog
Two Calendars: October and October Flowers
Seasonal Quote
Living in Season: Eating Together
Holiday Packets: Halloween
Winter Correspondence Course
Autumn Correspondence Course
What I?m Reading: Books on Food
Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
Signs of Autumn
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Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. We've finally updated the newsletter format so we can provide a much prettier version.

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My Season: Hibernating Blog

As my friend Elizabeth so wisely pointed out to me today, when we met for our writing practice at the coffee shop near my house, this is the season of dying. And it feels like my blog is dying, slowly fading back, as the flowers are fading in my neighborhood, back into the ground from which it sprang: my passion for flowers.

It seems ironic that I, who have staunchly refused to create a calendar with a holiday for every day, because I believe that trying to celebrate every day runs counter to the notion of a holiday, would decide to honor a plant a day in my blog. Although I loved doing the research, I quickly became exhausted and confused by all the things I was learning.

Add to that, I never quite achieved the personal, intimate tone which I so love in other people's blogs. Nor did I ever post links to other blogs as I was too busy researching my own to read many others. I think this also goes counter to blog etiquette.

So for now, I'm going to quietly withdraw from the blog, turning inwards as it seems advisable to do in the fall, knowing that I've sown the seeds which will flower into a full-blown correspondence course (How about a Flower a Week?) or a plant-a-day calendar some time in Spring.

While the blog may be going into hibernation, School of the Seasons is not. I'm going to be writing a short newsletter every three weeks. I'm also teaching an online class for Winter, which will start in November (see below). And I'm busy designing a whole new website, which will launch in January. I'll be looking for contributions from readers of art, photographs and articles, so keep tuned for these opportunities.

May your seeds of change be planted in fertile soil,
Waverly Fitzgerald

Two Calendars

The October calendar of holidays is updated and can be viewed here.

I'm also posting the list of the plants featured in the French Republican calendar for October so you can take up the task I first tackled in my blog, of learning about a new plant every day.

Seasonal Quote

When Providence supplies the means, the preparation and sharing of food takes on a sacred aspect. The fact that every crop is of short duration promotes a spirit of making the best of it while it lasts and conserving part of it for future use.

— Patience Gray, Honey from a Weed

Living in Season: Eating Together

Last year, when we were planning the Take Back Your Time Day conference, we talked about partnering with Slow Food Seattle to do a special meal. When that didn't happen, we proposed making such a feast the focus of Take Back Your Time Day on October 24. So I was amused when I learned the theme for this year's Take Back Your Time Day is "Let's Get Back to the Table."

It makes sense that rather than sponsor an expensive event at which people would leave their homes to dine with strangers (no matter how convivial the company and I thoroughly enjoyed the one Slow Food dinner I've attended), we should encourage cheaper, simpler ways to enjoy food with our families.

So many aspects of making a meal can bring us closer to our community and our families. I love my Sunday afternoon ritual of attending the local farmer's market, where I am beginning to recognize which vendor has the best fruit and which the cheapest vegetables. Then there's the ritual of preparation. I'm a lazy cook but my daughter makes an art out of food preparation. And finally the meal itself. I love conversing over good food, and good wine, but I tend to have these conversations in restaurants rather than at home.

That's partly because my dining room table is completely covered with the books I'm using to write my blog. So we tend to eat our meals alone, my daughter with her plate on a chair in front of the TV, me at my desk in front of the computer screen. So my vow for this next year is to clear my books off the dining room table and keep it that way so we can enjoy a meal together at least once a week.

In order to make sure this happens, we will have to set aside one day a week as well but that's how a tradition begins, whether or not it's a Thanksgiving meal or a once a week Sunday dinner.

Click here for more information about Take Back Your Time day.

Holiday Packet: Halloween

Order now if you wish to get 40 pages of ideas on how to celebrate Samhain, Halloween and Days of the Dead before the holiday. The email version will be sent within 24 hours.

This illustrated portfolio includes:

  • A panoramic review of how Days of the Dead has been celebrated
  • How this holiday evolved — a history of our alienation from the ancestors
  • The last of the autumnal transformation mysteries: making cider
  • Divinations for this particular crack between the worlds
  • Recipes for traditional foods like dead man's bones and soul cakes
  • Instructions for making skulls and masks
  • And much more.

The email version costs $9. It will be sent to you as an attached Word file within 24 hours of your order. The print version is $14. Please allow ten days for delivery.

You can order a packet by clicking here.

Winter Online Correspondence Course

To help motivate me to update my correspondence course material, which is ten years old, I've been offering the correspondence courses as online classes. This Winter class is the last. I am not sure if I will continue to offer the correspondence courses as online classes or simply provide them via email.

If you are interested in joining me for this adventure, here's how it works. The class begins November 2nd and goes for eight weeks, ending on December 21, Winter Solstice. You will receive a packet of information each week, providing information on various winter activities and suggesting tasks and projects that will help you interact with the natural world where you live and celebrate the themes of the season. Topics include winter metaphors, grounding, divination with stones, thirteen traditional cookies, New Year collages, foods for New Year, magical giftgivers of Yule, prosperity spells, making altars and celebrating the winter holidays.

You will personalize the course so it works for you and report on your activities every week in a private list serve. 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. I know it may be hard to find the time during the busy holiday season, but ideally the course will complement rather than compete with your holiday celebrations.

Enrollment is limited to twelve students.
The cost is $90 for eight weeks.

Click here to order the Winter Online Correspondence Course.

Autumn Correspondence Course

Of course, you can still order Autumn. Five out of seven topics are available via email, and the other two will be sent in the next two weeks. The cost is $66 for all seven topics delivered via email.

Click here to order the Autumn Correspondence Course.

You can also still order the unrevised print version of the Autumn course here.

However, the print versions are also going to be retired and only the email version will be available after the start of the year.

What I'm Reading: Books About Food

On my recent birthday, I spent a luxurious couple of hours in one of my favorite book stores, Elliott Bay Books in Pioneer Square, trying to decide what to buy with my accumulated gift certificates. I was delighted at the growth in the section of the book store, which I call "food writing," as contrasted to "cookbooks." I bought two of the books I found in this section:

Four Seasons in Five Senses by David Mas Masumoto, Norton 2003
How could I resist a book with that title? This is a collection of lyrically written short essays on aspects of Masumoto?s life as a peach farmer, organized by sense with the seasons implicit. If you have never read him before, start with his first book, Epitaph of a Peach.

Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection by Jessica Prentice, Chelsea Green, 2006
This lovely book is organized by moon. Each section opens with an essay on some aspect of eating — for instance, the Blood Moon of November, has an essay on meat-eating, while the following lunation, Snow Moon, focuses on preserving food during the winter — then provides related recipes. The emphasis is always on locally grown, humanely raised foods and traditional cooking methods.

Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Penguin 2006
I have not yet read my two new books because I?m busy devouring Pollan's new book. The brilliant author of The Botany of Desire (a transformative view of our relationship with plants) is back with a look at the food we eat. The first section, which Pollan calls industrial, traces the raising of corn as a commodity, through its use as feed for cows in a feedlot to its processing into various constituents in a factory and finally to a McDonalds meal. Warning: you will never eat corn-fed beef again after reading this section. In the second section, which he calls pastoral, he visits a big organic producer (Earthbound Farms) that sells to major supermarket chains and a small farmer who grows many crops and sells them all locally. In the final section, Pollan hunts a pig and forages for mushrooms, composing a meal he has personally gathered. This meal he writes became

a thanksgiving or a secular seder, for every item on our plates pointed somewhere else, almost sacramentally, telling a little story about nature or community or even the sacred, for mystery was often the theme. Such storied food can feed us both body and soul, the threads of narrative knitting us together as a group and knitting the group into the larger fabric of the given world.

Two other books which I saw at the bookstore but didn't buy (because they are full of gorgeous photographs which makes them more expensive) are

Harvest: A Year in the Life of an Organic Farm by Nicola Smith, with photographs by Geoff Hansen, Lyons Press 2004
A lively photographic and literary essay featuring the challenges and pleasures of life on a small organic farm in Vermont as lived by Kyle Jones and Jennifer Megyesi.

Fields of Plenty: A Farmer's Journey in Search of Real Food and the People who Grow It by Michael Ableman, Chronicle 2005
In this beautiful book Ableman combines photography, text and recipes, as he travels from his farm in British Columbia across the United States interviewing innovative farmers. In one chapter, he visits Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, the same farm featured in Pollan's book.

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.

$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, go to our Store.

Signs of Autumn

I'm enjoying the shape and packaging of the various seeds on the plants here in Seattle. I especially love the hollyhocks, with the round seeds, like tiny fluted plates, stacked up their edges in the gathered package of the seed head. I've scattered a bunch in my garden plot, hoping I will have hollyhocks growing there next year.

Where ever you live, send me your signs of the season and we will post them at the website at Signs of the Season.


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