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Living in Season from Waverly Fitzgerald

Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons

November 19, 2007


Seasonal Quote: Thomas Hood
My Season: Storing Nuts for the Winter
Update: November Calendar
Living in Season: Preserving Stories, Making Books
Winter Gifts from the School of the Seasons

  • Advent SunWheel
  • Thirteen Christmas Cookies
  • Yule Holiday Packet
  • Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Slow Time Book

Upcoming School of the Seasons Products and Services:

  • Calendar Companion Weekly Planner
  • French Revolutionary Wall Calendar
  • Natural Planning Journal (email)

Signs of Winter
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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

No sun--no morn! No morn! No noon
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
— Thomas Hood

My Season: Storing Up Nuts for the Winter

Sorry this is a bit later than I planned. Having problems with my email service. Aren't you glad that Mercury is finally going direct?

November has always been a busy month for me, even though this year I'm not (for the first time in years) participating in National Novel Writing Month. (I am teaching a novel writing class and writing a novel — just not quite at the frantic pace of Nanowrimo).

So I'm looking forward to four-day weekend of Thanksgiving when I can slow down, spend time feasting with friends, and begin working on my new projects: a Calendar Companion weekly planner and a French Revolutionary calendar. Both will be illustrated with fabulous photographs and available through Lulu by the second week in December.

Meanwhile I am a busy squirrel, a better image for a busy creature than a hamster on a wheel, which is how I used to feel (not that I have anything against hamsters; some of my favorite pets have been hamsters).

May you enjoy your preparations for the winter,
Waverly Fitzgerald

November Calendar

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

You should note that Advent begins on the last Sunday in November (November 25) for pagans, that is, those observing the four Sundays before Winter Solstice as the ritual time of waiting. For Christians, Advent begins the following Sunday on December 2, as there are four Sundays before Christmas Day. (Winter Solstice is on Friday, December 21). See below for the School of the Seasons products that are designed to be used during Advent.

Living in Season: Preserving Stories, Making Books

In many cultures, Winter is the time of story-telling. The ancient Celts told stories only at night in the winter (except for certain ceremonial occasions) according to Alwyn Rees in Celtic Heritage. This was also true of people in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Some stories took an hour to tell, others six. They were always told around the hearth or fire-altar.

Stories make great gifts as well. One Christmas, I wrote down some of the stories I had been telling my daughter about our pets: Chester, the Demon Dog, and Faithfull, the Feline Fiend. Shaw illustrated them and we created a little book which we gave as a gift to family and friends. These stories have spread far and wide. A neighbor's child reminded me of the story of how Chester ate the pumpkin pecan bread while we were working in the garden together. My mentor, Helen Farias, read the story about how Chester and Faithfull were angels at Christmas time during one of her Advent celebrations. Now that both pets have died, these stores are even more precious. So many details—like the names of Chester's friends at the Doggie Club—which we would have forgotten are still with us because they were captured in these stories.

This little book was the first of a series of books I've created as Christmas gifts. One year I wrote about the tradition of baking thirteen cookies for Christmas (which I first learned about from Helen Farias) and provided recipes for thirteen traditional Christmas cookies, plus stories about how these cookies reflected ancient Christmas customs and myths. I gave the books as gifts to guests at my Winter Solstice party. (It's now available in the School of the Seasons store; see below.)

Another year I created a book based on the research I had done in a genealogy class on my father's family (the Fitzgeralds of Minnesota and South Dakota). I illustrated it with family photos and sent copies to all of my paternal relatives. Last year I did the same thing for my mother's family (the Wittaks of Milwaukee) but I created a calendar instead. One page contained photos and a brief text (I worked my way down from the Wittak ancestor who sailed to America, through to my family standing in front of the Christmas tree on December, and included pages for my mother's move to Los Angeles and my grandfather's work place). The calendar grid contained significant family dates, which allowed me to see some interesting patterns.

I find the technology of making books very satisfying. In the past, I've used Word and printed the pages, pasting them up in alternating patterns in folios, and then taking the originals to my local printing shop to have the books photocopied and bound for a minimal price. But now the technology has improved so immensely, you can produce a professional-looking book using the print-on-demand technology available through companies like (through which I published my new Slow Time book).

If you have stories you want to preserve and share, think about making this your Yule gift this year. If you feel overwhelmed by the idea, start small, perhaps with the stories you remember hearing about your grandparents (you can do the research later to find out if the stories are true, but it's valuable to record these pre-edited versions). Or compile the recipes you've collected over the years, with stories about the occasions you've cooked them or the people who gave them to you. If you have a blog, select your favorite entries and publish those. If you feel too shy to feature your own writing, solicit stories or recipes from your friends and publish those.

I love giving books for Christmas but even more I love making them.

Winter Gifts from School of the Seasons

Two of my holiday books are designed to be used during Advent so you should order them now if you want to have them in time to celebrate that delicious period of waiting, preceding the rebirth of the Sun. Both are available via email (sent within 24 hours of your order) and in print versions (which take about 10 days to arrive).

Advent SunWheel by Helen Farias

I've been celebrating Advent for years using these suggestions from my friend and mentor, Helen Farias.

This portfolio of ideas includes:

  • instructions on making an Advent wreath
  • recipes for traditional cookies and beverages
  • suggestions for a weekly ritual
  • carols with pagan lyrics.
  • Plus four stories adapted by Helen from the Scandinavian tradition, perfect for reading out loud while the Advent candles burn: The Ice Ship, Holle and Holler, Sul's Return and Hulda's Ride.

The email version is $10 and the print version (which comes as loose pages, suitable for removing and using each Sunday, in a portfolio) is $15.

Order through our Store.

Thirteen Christmas Cookies

It was Helen Farias who told me that it is traditional to bake thirteen different kinds of cookies during the Christmas season, a charge I try to carry out by making three different cookies each week of Advent. The book contains

  • recipes for traditional Winter Holiday cookies from many cultures including Cavallucci, Zimsterne, Springerle, shortbread, Kourabiedes, etc.
  • recipes for warming winter drinks
  • information on the folklore embedded in each cookie's history
  • suggestions for hosting your own Winter Solstice party.

The email version is $10 and the print version (a ring-bound book easy to use I the kitchen) for $15.

Order through our Store.

Yule Holiday Packet

The Yule holiday packet is a big one: 60 pages stuffed with information on midwinter holidays, magical gift-givers, recipes for Christmas morning porridges and warming beverages, menus for Christmas dinner, instructions for making luminarias and pomanders, and a selection of Yule songs.

I've posted some sample pages from my Yule packet at my website so you can see how it turned out. This link will take you to pages on the tradition of lighting lights in the darkness:

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.

Twelve Days of Christmas

I've been celebrating the magical time interval between Christmas and New Year, when time is suspended and miracles can happen, for over 15 years and it's become one of my favorite holiday rituals and one I love to share with others. This illustrated book contains some of the traditions I've created, as I review the year past and create visions for the year ahead, and some I learned from my students when I offered this as an online class, plus

  • Folklore about the 12 days of Christmas
  • Ideas for celebrating each of the 12 Days
  • History of the famous 12 Days of Christmas song (and alternate versions)

The email version is available for $10 (sent within 24 hours of your order)and the comb-bound book is available for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery).

Order through our Store.

Slow Time Book

If you're looking for a gift for someone who is overwhelmed by business and wishing for a slower, more natural relationship with time (maybe that's you? I hope you buy yourself holiday gifts), consider my new book, Slow Time: Recovering the Natural Rhythm of Life. It provides twelve weeks of ideas plus gentle exercises for working with different intervals of time from the moment through the lifetime. To see the book, read an excerpt or order a copy, go to:

Advance Notice: I'll be posting chapters from the book, one at a time, on my website, throughout 2008, if you prefer the really slow version.

Upcoming: New Ideas from School of the Seasons

Calendar Companion Weekly Planner

I don't yet have a sample for you to see so I won't be selling this on the website for a few more weeks but I wanted to let you know in advance that I am planning to publish the weekly messages I wrote for the Calendar Companion, each one paired with a gorgeous, seasonal photograph, as a weekly planner. Facing each message/photo page, will be a page where you can write in your appointments, or keep track of what's happening seasonally in your neighborhood or garden.

French Revolutionary Wall Calendar

I will also be creating a French Revolutionary Calendar. This will be in wall format and will display a picture appropriate to the corresponding month in the French Revolutionary Calendar (November is split between Brumaire, foggy, and Frimaire, frosty. The grid portion will show the plant, animal or tool for each day. (For instance, next week beginning on Monday, you would honor the service tree, the roller (tool), rampion, turnips (for Thanksgiving), chicory, medlar and the pig (on Sunday November 25).)

Natural Planning Journal

For 2008, I'm launching a new email service that I'm calling for right now a Natural Planning Journal. This will be a way of formulating themes and goals for each season and moon cycle and using those natural rhythms (and the balance they represent—with appropriate periods of rest as well as activity) to accomplish your dreams. The service will include four weeks of preparatory assignments via email in January, to help you identify your themes and goals for the new year. (Those of you who start your new year in a different season, can do this at any time.) For the rest of the year, email messages will arrive shortly before each new season and new moon, suggesting possible themes for the season or lunation, and reminding you of your intentions at the start of the year. This will be a new adventure for me and I'm looking forward to seeing how it works.

More on all of these new services and products will be available in the next newsletter which should arrive the first week of December.

Signs of Winter

We've had two power outages in the last few weeks and it's marvelous to see how dark it is, even in the city, when the lights are out. Joanna Powell Colbert writes in her blog about how she wrestled with her desire to keep working as usual, when wind and rain knocked out power to her island home, but finally realized the storms provided the perfect opportunity for hibernation.

It's cold and dark and raining, raining, raining in Seattle. It's hard to go outside. I would rather be huddling in front of the warm glow from my computer screen.

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


Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2007
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Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as
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