Join me on a journey to rediscover ancient traditions, seasonal living and wellbeing practices. A ten week series for each season. Winter: resting, Spring: planting, Summer: sprouting and Autumn: harvesting. We will explore them literally and metaphorically.
You may want to get yourself a note pad, as I will be encouraging you to note 3 good things that happen to you in the week. Plus there will be periodic journaling prompts. It's good to put pen to paper but if tapping away at your keyboard or making notes on your phone is more suited to you go with that. There are no rules.
I'll post each Sunday but there will be no link to the previous week. I want to avoid people feeling that they 'have to catch up'. So if you miss a week, two or even a whole season just start again, right from where you are.
As we enter the second half of January, mornings can be misty and frosty leaving beautiful patterns on car windows caused by the cold air outside and warm air on the inside. But have you also noticed that it is staying a little lighter at the end of each day?
Out and about ivy berries are blackening providing a food source for birds whose nests we can now see clearly amongst bare branches. If you look closely you may even spot fungi growing on trees. Depending on whereabouts you are in the country you might just be starting to see little green shoots of snowdrops and crocuses popping up through the soil.
Indoors the house may feel bare now that you have taken down the decorations, maybe gather some evergreens and fallen branches to pop into vases. You may have also turned your heating up a notch and be taking more warm baths and showers to get the chill out of your bones, if caught in the frequent icy cold rain. Make sure you hydrate your skin by drinking plenty of water and moisturising.
As we once again find ourselves in a national lockdown and are spending more time at home, take time to sit and think (or even better write) about what home means to you. We can’t always control what happens outside of our homes but we can decide how we feel inside of them.
- Do you remember what your house was like when you moved into it?
- Have you kept any physical reminders of its previous history/occupants?
- What have you done to make it ‘yours’ and feel like home?
- Where is the cosiest place in your home? A whole room? A nook? A chair? Your bed?
- What is it about that space that makes you feel good? Resolve to spend more time there.
- If you are working and/or home schooling from the kitchen table, keep a box handy so that you can pop away electronics/books/papers/pens etc away at the end of the day. Reclaim the space to sit and have meals together, play board games or simply light a candle and place it on the table in the evening to bring a sense of calm.
- Make time for comfort; A leisurely soak in the bath. A simple candlelit supper with your partner. Or a duvet day watching films with the kids.
- When picking up the toy train for the twentieth time, gathering soggy towels up from the bathroom floor or loading the dishwasher, reframe these activities from chores to mindful moments of homemaking. The mess is a sign of life lived and tidying is wiping the slate clean to begin the process again of being comfortable enough to ‘just be’. Note: homemaking isn’t a solo experience, so get others within the home to chip in.
2021 plans: The very low seasonal energy of winter and its new moon will begin to slowly increase over the next two weeks as we head towards the transition between winter and spring. So now is a good time to move forward with your planning. Look back over your notes and begin to prioritise.
- Do you have a big overarching dream that will take some time? If so decide whether this will be your sole focus for the year or whether to break it into smaller steps, so you have time for other things through the year. If the latter, what is the most important thing that you can do this year to help bring your dream into fruition?
- Which projects will call for creativity and thinking?
- Which will require a more physical effort?
- What can be done in a day, week, month?
- What will be ongoing projects throughout the year?
- Get out your diary or calendar and put in all your work, family and health commitments. Also ring fence nothing time, for relaxation and replenishment. This will also give you a buffer for the unexpected if your plans get scuppered and you need a ‘catch up’ period.
- Harness seasonal energy. Projects that will last for a month or longer, that require creativity and thinking schedule for February and autumn/ winter. Those that are more physical schedule for spring and summer.
- Harness lunar energy. The new and crescent moon periods are good times for thinking, seeking inspiration and creativity. The full and gibbous moons provide more light and energy, so plans that are more physical or demand focus would be better suited to this time when you will have more get up and go.
- Don’t be too rigid with your plans, life happens and so do unexpected opportunities.
weekly prompt: Gardening is good for the soul so whether you have a little patch of ground to call your own, space for a couple of grow bags or simply a few pots on a windowsill. I would encourage you to plan some growing this week.
Gardening takes us outside of ourselves and reminds us of the transience of life. There are successes and failures. We begin to appreciate the limits to our human power and the wondrous force of nature. There is a thrill when you grow something from a tiny seed and for me that excitement is even better when it is produce that ends up on your plate. If you haven’t read the ‘In the garden’ section piece at the bottom of the page yet this month, scroll down for some ideas.
fun fact: Over 80% of flowering plants need pollinators, however snowdrops and crocuses multiply by new bulbs growing off the mother bulb.
3 good things: Happiness is created by intentional activity and studies consistently show that reminding ourselves of good things that happen each week and noting them down means we end up happier, more satisfied with our lives and optimistic about the future.
One of mine this week; using my voice to stand up for myself and being heard.
To a snowdrop, William Wordsworth
Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!
my seasonal eating: Butternut squash soup. Hearty and simple.
Ingredients: 1 butternut squash, 2 onions, 2 celery sticks, 4 carrots, few sprigs of thyme.
- Chop up your veg.
- Drizzle oil into a pan, when hot fry off your onions and celery until translucent and soft.
- Add chopped veg and cook until they have taken on some colour, stir occasionally.
- Season with salt and pepper, add thyme, then add enough stock to cover your veg.
- Simmer until the veg is tender. Remove thyme stalk.
- Blitz in a blender or with a stick blender, taking care not to scald yourself.
beetroot, borlotti beans, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cavolo nero, celeriac, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnip, potato, purple sprouting broccoli, salsify, spinach, swede, turnip, winter radishes, winter squash.
celery, chicory, endive, lambs lettuce, parsley, rocket, watercress, winter purslane, winter radish. bay, chervil, coriander, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, winter savory.
apples, forced rhubarb, pears. hazelnuts, sweet chestnuts, walnuts.
duck, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, muntjac, mutton, partridge, pheasant, pigeon, rabbit, turkey, venison.
bass, brill, clams, cod, coley, dab, dover sole, haddock, hake, herring, langoustines, lobster, mussels, oysters, pollock, rainbow trout, sardines, scallops, seabream, skate, sole, wild turbot.
january in the garden:
Prune established fruit trees now whilst they are dormant. First cut away any dead, damaged or diseased wood. Then remove any overcrowded branches.
Leave dead growth on bushes and shrubs as they are likely a hidey hole for creatures hunkering down.
If you want blooms in the garden next January plant hellebores, sarcococca and green snowdrops.
Plan what you want to grow in the year ahead. Make a list and start ordering your seeds.
If you want to try growing some of your own produce, you can start to sow the following indoors now: broad beans, chervil, coriander, garlic, leeks, onions, parsley, peas, salad leaves, spinach, Swiss chard, radishes.
winter essential oils:
benzoin, bergamot, black pepper, cedarwood, cinnamon, clove, cypress, eucalyptus, frankincense, French lavender, ginger, juniper, litsea, marjoram, myrhh, nutmeg, ravensara, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, sweet orange, tea-tree, thyme, peppermint, pine, vanilla, vetivert.