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Living in Season Newsletter

Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 1, number 21
December 31, 2003


  • Welcome
  • January Calendar and More!
  • Better News
  • My Season: Reviewing the Year
  • Living in Season: Twelfth Night
  • In the Library: Ravens and Owl
  • Holiday Packet: Yule
  • Holiday Packet: Candlemas
  • 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
We never rent, sell or give away subscriber information.

January and More
My holiday calendar for January is updated here.

Also there are two new articles on the website. One lists all the new, full, first quarter and last quarter moons for the year and tells you how to find your lucky moons for starting new projects, reflecting on your life and celebrating.

The other article looks at the way the energies of the moon and sun inter-relate at each of the seasonal holidays and is useful for people planning public rituals or private ceremonies.

Better News
What I meant to say last time when I was reporting the good news about doubling the number of subscribers is that we went from 1000 to slightly over 2000.

Thanks so much for subscribing, for letting me know you care about what I do, and for sending me good quotes, links and corrections.

Update: Year End Review
It snowed last night in Seattle. I drove home from a night out dancing through freshly falling snow. It squeaked and scrunched under my boots as I walked to my house. So I guess my usual weather prognostication tool might not be so reliable. If you assume that the Twelve Days of Christmas predict the weather for the twelve days of the coming year, that means it will be snowing in April. It's possible I suppose.

I'm in the thick of my year end review. In fact as I write this I'm in May of last year. It always surprised me how much I've forgotten about the events of the previous year when I look back over my journals and calendars.

Some things that I thought happened this year, clearly happened a year ago. Other things that I thought happened years ago, took place only six or seven months earlier.

I think of myself as a relatively healthy person, but as I'm going through my journals I see that I was sick for over a week in both January and April (and I know I was sick again in November). I suppose it's not surprising that I suppressed this, but now that I've noticed it I might change something about my diet or exercise. Also, I have vivid memories of sleepless nights, tossing and turning and worrying about what sort of trouble my 26-year-old daughter is getting into. But looking back on my journal, I see some of her triumphs, like singing with a big band at the Seattle Center and recall happy times we spent together, like on May Eve when we did our traditional flower gathering at midnight.

I always suggest that if you do a thorough year-end review, like I do, you start first with an impression of the year, just to notice how you create stories about your life, and how they might be different than the reality. Then you get to choose which story you want to retain.

May your new year bring you more of everything that you enjoyed in the past year, and less of the things you didn't.

Living in Season: Twelfth Night
I'm a big fan of obscure holidays and Twelfth Night is one of the first I revived, after writing a college paper on the Shakespearean play of the same name which is full of jokes derived from the themes of the holiday.

Twelfth Night (January 6) is the official end of the winter holiday season and thus an excuse for a big, blow-out of a party during which everyone ets to behave badly for the last time this year (that is until Carnival — which is a long ways away — this year-Mardi Gras is February 24).

If you don't want to have a big party (and it is a Tuesday night this year), you might still honor the close of the holiday season. This is one of the traditional dates for taking down the Christmas greens (the others are January 13 (St Knut's Day) and February 1st, both dates that are also symbolic endings to the holiday season. In Sweden, people dance around the Christmas tree on St Knut's day, before chopping it up and burning it.

I remember the first time I ever burned a Christmas tree. My college roommates and I dragged our spindly and very dry tree out into the street in front of our duplex and set it on fire. It went up like a torch. And I'm sure we were dancing around it. Many years later, when I was living with Jerry, we decided to burn our Xmas tree but being a bit more mature, we took it to the beach and burnt it in a bonfire pit. That was a great tradition, watching our two kids, Rachel and Shaw, running around in the early dark, dipping long branches into the fire until the ends were aglow and using them to trace patterns like fireflies in the air.

But February 1 is pretty cold in Seattle. After I broke up with Jerry, I started chopping down my tree on February 1st, but saving the branches for the summer solstice bonfire. This means storing it for six months--I usually keep a plastic garbage bag full of branches in a corner of my clothes closet. I love the way it releases that Christmas odor when jostled but this could be hazardous if there is any chance of contactwith heat or flame. A dried out Christmas tree is incredibly flammable.

Chopping all the branches off leaves the main trunk of the tree as a pole. A friend of mine, Maevyn, uses that tree trunk, set in a Xmas tree holder, as a Maypole for indoor May Day ceremonies. My daughter got a great magazine called Ready Made (a younger and hipper version of Martha Stewart's Living) as a gift from our favorite present giver. This issue featured a Christmas tree coat rack. The branches were sawed off leaving 2 or 3 inch stubs, the whole tree was painted, and left standing in a Xmas tree holder in the entry way.

For more of my writing on Twelfth Night, click here!

ReadyMade has a web site at

In the Library: Ravens and Owls
Ever since I read Winter World, I've been on a Bernd Heinrich binge, reading almost everything he's written. They're addictive. I can't put them down even when it's 3 AM and the bath water is cold. They read like novels, with great stories and an intimate glimpse of the world of ravens and owls in the snowy woods of Maine. I think I'm partly hooked by the fantasy of being able to communicate with wild birds, as Heinrich clearly does, like a naturalist Doctor Doolittle, if you will. But throughout, he is also the scientist, studying animal behavior and devising interesting tests to try to figure out how these animals think and feel.

Of course, raising wild animals is an activity that is frowned upon as the woman at the Raptor Raptor Rehabilitation Center makes clear when Heinrich bring in his horned owl, Bubo. She promises to teach Bubo to "hate humans." Luckily the owl is deemed "incorrigible" and Heinrich gets him back and successfully teaches him to hunt before releasing him.

Heinrich pays a heavy price for his intimate look at nature. He's often alone in a drafty cabin or a blind in the snowy woods, at subzero temperatures, watching and waiting for something to happen. And one senses that his obsessive behavior cost him at least one marriage, although you can't blame his wife, who didn't really want to spend summers with their six-month old son in a tiny cabin in the Maine woods, unable to go outside because the horned owl would fly at her, hooting to defend his territory (or perhaps he thought Heinrich was his mate).

One Man's Owl, Bernd Heinrich, abridged by Alice Calaprice,
Princeton U Press 1993

This was also turned into a YA book called An Owl in the House.

This has been my favorite so far. The story of Bubo, the horned owl. Heinrich raises him when the nest is destroyed in a snow storm before the young owl can fly. When he has to leave Maine to return to his teaching duties in Vermont, he leaves Bubo at a Raptor Rehabilitation Center, but Bubo is deemed "incorrigible." When Heinrich returns almost a year later, determined to be responsible for this owl he has "ruined," he's not even sure the catatonic owl he meets is the same animal. Over a period of weeks, Bubo gradually warms again to Heinrich, but not to his wife or friends who he drives from the cabin with impressive hooting displays. Eventually Heinrich is able to teach Bubo how to hunt and releases him into the wild.

The Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich
Ecco 2000
This was my second favorite. After receiving official permission (Heinrich questions a society that permits hunters to slaughter unlimited numbers of crows but requires permits if someone ones to raise one), Heinrich raises several young ravens and conducts experiments with these social and intelligent birds to try to determine how they solve problems, communicate with each other and learn what's good to eat.

Ravens in Winter by Bernd Heinrich
Vintage 1991
Just started this one. It's a little drier and more scientific than Mind of the Raven, and written earlier when Heinrich's curiosity was first ignited by watching ravens feed at a carcass and realizing that they were cooperating.

His question: why would they do this? starts a scientific quest that includes looking at other books on ravens, talking to raven observers and raising young ravens himself.

**Thought you might be amused like I was. Amazon.com (which I use for bibliographic searches) suggested that customers interested in Ravens in Winter might also be interested in Baltimore Ravens tix. Got to love the search engine's sense of humor.**

Holiday Packet: Yule
You can still order the Yule packet if you want it for next year.
It's my biggest holiday packet yet at 60 pages.

You can view sample pages about the tradition of lighting lights in the darkness by downloading this PDF file.

It is available in an email version for $7 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $11 (please allow 10 days for delivery). Order a copy now through our store.

Supplemental pages(also in PDF format) are also available, to add to your Yule packet (or begin your own):

How I celebrate Yule:
A description of my Advent ceremony, my solitary
solstice ritual, my winter solstice party, the legendary Lucia parties at Bright House and a glimpse of Twelfth Night.

Midwinter poems:
My favorite poems which I post on my refrigerator
and read at my winter solstice party.

Holiday Packet: Candlemas
You cIt's not too soon to order your Candlemas packet if you want to prepare for the next big seasonal feast on February 1st and 2nd. The Candlemas packet contains 45 pages of information including:

- the early spring festivals of Imbolc, St. Bridget, Sementiva, St. Agnes
- the full moon spring festivals of Purim,Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras,
- directions for making candles, a New Year's collage & Brigid's crosses
- recipes for navettes, pancakes, hamantaschen, blinis, nun's ribbons & more
- the dandelion & the snowdrop
- songs and poems

It is available in an email version for $7 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail in a portfolio for $11 (please allow 10 days for delivery). Order now in our Store.

Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2003.
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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