Making Peace With Seasons

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Growing up in both tropical and desert climates, I longed for white Christmases and real autumn foliage. The idea of bundling up and watching leaves blow around just sounded so cozy. When I moved to Portland, I was ecstatic during the first  fall season. It was gorgeous, exhilarating, and certainly cozy. But then a “real” winter came. It wasn’t just any old winter, it was long, gray, and very very wet. We didn’t really even get a spring, and the sun didn’t shine until June. It was rather traumatic, coming from Southern California. I enjoyed the following summer, although in a more miserly way, dreading the coming of fall, and feeling completely ripped off when it came early. I never felt quite the same way about autumn again. It felt more foreboding than exciting. It didn’t feel inspiring, but merely the link between the end of summer and beginning of winter, which I dreaded with all of my heart.

So. Now it’s fall again, and I have to tell you, it is heart-achingly beautiful here in Bavaria. The air is cold and smells of humus and wood fire smoke, and I feel incredibly nostalgic. Some of my favorite memories are of Thanksgiving celebrations spent with my family in California when I was younger, even if it wasn’t always cold enough for a proper sweater. For some reason, the combination of all of the gorgeousness and being far away from any family members just makes me want to cry. I feel sad that most of the leaves have fallen, and that it will soon be bitterly cold. Even though it’s already quite frigid, I make myself stay outdoors as much as possible whenever it’s not raining, since it will be much more difficult to do so in a few more weeks. I really hope, contrary to experience, that I can find winter inspiring and beautiful, and that I can (with the help of my vitamin D supplements) enjoy it and not feel desolate.

When I really think about it, I like the idea of modeling my life around the seasons. In autumn, I begin to slow down and focus on my family life: getting into daily rhythms, cooking, working on the things that must be done around the house. When winter comes, it’s more about stillness, settling in. Candles, fires, a clean canvas of snow on the outside. We slow down even more, staying indoors, drinking tea, sitting, having time to reflect and set our intentions for the coming year. Once we’ve rested for a while, growing our own internal roots, spring comes along. Life becomes colorful again, and we sort of come back to life, ready for the activity to resume. We go outdoors again, thankful for flowers and leaves, with a “spring” in our step. We gather momentum, and move into summer– full of activity, people, travel. We spend most of our time outdoors, widening our social circle and living more in our physical bodies. The days are long, and we do so much. Hopefully, by the time summer ends, we are fully spent and ready and thankful for the rest and relative structure of Fall. Our summer was crazy, and I really am ready for a slow season.

This is my intention for the seasons this year. I don’t want to fight them. I want to be guided by nature, and see what this winter may have for nurturing (rather than antagonizing) my spirit.

Happy Fall!

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4 Responses to Making Peace With Seasons

  1. tech.samaritan October 28, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    We have had to go through this as well, and it is hard. Spending more time outside in the fall is helpful for helping your body acclimate to the changes in daylight, and in temperature.

    The distinct seasons have, in a way, appeased our need for a changing environment, and helped us to stay in one place. Summer and winter are two distinct and very different worlds, and when we are in one, the other seems so far away. And we know it will change. That is a crucial bit of knowledge at the end of January.

    I get the feeling that our artificial environments here in the US make seasonal transitions worse, and a culture that never slows down does not help at all.

  2. ShackelMom October 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    A really good and thoughtful post, and Daniel’s comment too. Living in tune with the seasons sounds like a good thing, and something I know I would have to work at.

  3. Megan October 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    I’m glad you’re adjusting to the changes. Moving to New England (after living in Texas and California!) was a big challenge for us, but I’ve come to relish fall and winter now for those very reasons. One thing that has really, really helped us enjoy the cold is that we never vary up our outside routine, even when it’s bitterly cold and snowy — thanks to a big, energetic dog who thinks that deep snow is the best playground.

    It’s amazing how your body can transition to accepting the new environment. There are those days in the fall when 50F feels cold enough for a jacket, and there are days in the late spring when 50F feels like a heat wave. Two things someone told me upon moving to NE that have helped enormously: 1) get the right clothes and gear so that being outdoors is no big deal and 2) go outdoors for extended peoples of time daily no matter what and soak up the sun.

    Now I love winter walks when it’s 15F and the snow is falling softly all around and it’s so quiet you can hear your thoughts and the red dog is racing through the silver trucks of bare trees leaping over snowbanks. It’s pure magic.

  4. Anonymous November 6, 2010 at 2:12 am #

    Ariana, what great thoughts on season changes. I feel like here in California we have an idealized version of Fall and Winter and we wish we had changing leaves and snow and cold. BUT, I did live in Saskatewan for 2 1/2 years and I really experienced the harshness that winter can bring. The thing that helped me was to really get out and PLAY in the snow! Taking walks in the cold and being outside made me appreciate the indoor time.
    Such good thoughts as usual. =0)

    Gretchen J.

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