Making Peace With Seasons

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This is a repost from two years ago, when we were living in Bavaria. I find that I pretty much feel the same now as I did then about seasons, but this reflection on the purpose of the external changes has helped me to adjust, and I wanted to share these thoughts with you…
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 an actual 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!

Did you grow up with traditional seasons? Do you struggle with them, as I sometimes do?

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Making Peace With Seasons

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21 Responses to Making Peace With Seasons

  1. Marilyn October 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Love this post – You’ve described exactly how I’ve felt about seasons (Once I learned to embrace them!) Beautiful word pictures.

    • Ariana Mullins October 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks, Marilyn. Yes, I think it does take some time to get used to the cold months, if it’s something you weren’t raised with. I used to complain about the heat a lot in Southern California. But after my first OR winter, I realized decided I’d never do that again. 🙂

  2. Hazel October 20, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    Having lived all my life in England, where we have 4 definite seasons (okay, sometimes it feels like if you blink you might miss summer, but in theory 4 seasons!) I would really miss them if I lived somewhere tropical or cold.

    I find autumn especially helps get me in the right frame of mind for winter. At the start I’m still missing summer, but by October I’m ready for stews, soups, wood fires and all the good things that come with winter and colder weather.

    It’s easy to ignore the seasons though, even in a country like the UK. People eat the same things all year round and wear the same clothes because their houses and cars are heated to the same temperature regardless of the weather and frankly only go outside to walk to and from their car. The year becomes homogenised, with the exception of odd spikes like fireworks, Christmas or enough snow to keep cars off the roads.

    I try to get the family to eat seasonally and spend lots of time outdoors to appreciate the season we’re in and acclimatize ourselves ready for the next one.

    • Ariana Mullins October 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

      Hazel, I agree completely that we should actually experience the seasons and climates we are living in– both through spending time outdoors, and eating what’s in season. I do get to that point where I am ready for the heavier, richer, warming meals. By summer, I’ve had more than enough, though, and love the cucumbers and tomatoes. I think this is exactly as it should be!

      And most people in the US do the same as you described– air conditioning in the summertime, stifling heating in the winter. Part of my husband’s job is visiting and working with families in their homes, and he always tells me that in the middle of winter, people are walking around their houses in shorts and tank tops because they’ve heated the house to summer temps!

  3. Marisa October 21, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I can so relate to your sentiments. Living in the Pacific Northwest we often have a similar fate to the one you described in Portland. Mid August I start dreading the change of seasons – not because I don’t enjoy fall in its own right, but because I know what it is foretelling. And in Seattle 9 months of gray and drizzle is not uncommon. And in fact there are some years when the following summer never really even arrives!! So at the end of a nice summer I always have this fear of not knowing when and if I will even see another one! And I am definitely a lover of warm weather as I discovered while living in South Carolina. But I do try to make a concerted effort to be more accepting of where and when I am. I find when I struggle and fight against the seasons – by yes, whining and complaining – I definitely make myself even more miserable. Years ago I read a quote from Shakespeare and it really struck a chord and I have thought of it often over the years. “I no more desire a rose at Christmas then wish for snow in May’s newfangled mirth.” It is a good reminder I think!

    I also have to say how much I relate to your descriptions of Bavaria. Yesterday we drove about the countryside and went to lake Ammersee in Diessen and I was just overcome with the beauty of a Bavarian fall. It was a truly stunning day. Crisp blue skies, burnished leaves every which way – and especially along the hillsides. And then there was the light. The low angle of the sun that casts gorgeous shadows throughout the countryside and brings things into a soft yet defined relief. Truly one of the more beautiful fall days I’ve enjoyed in a long time :)And I am always struck with the greenness of Bavaria – forget the Emerald Isle – I have never seen a greener place in all my travels. So the bright vibrant green of the meadows and fields in contrast to the fall colors and the blue sky was just breathtaking!

    • Ariana Mullins October 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

      Marisa– I definitely know that feeling of not knowing when or if summer will ever return! I had the hardest time here this year. I had waited through autumn, winter, and spring. I thought that’s all I had to do, before I would get to bask in the sunshine again– but summer never showed up until the very end of August! It seemed like such a cruel trick and as the weeks went on, I became more and more sure that I couldn’t keep living here. In the end, we did get a good dose of sunshine, and spent a decent amount of time at the beach… But it did kind of scar me. 🙂

      And I’m so glad you’ve been able to spend time in Bavaria at this time of year– so incredibly gorgeous!!

  4. Kym Hamer October 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Coming from Australia, a white Christmas was something only ever seen on Christmas cards. My first experience of snow in London was wonderful – walking down London Wall 2 weeks after my arrival with snowflakes swirling down from the leaden skies – but was followed swiftly by a fall and broken elbow the following day. But that child-like wonder remains – I get out in the snow and photograph it from all angles every time and I am always the one at work with her nose pressed against the window at the first call of ‘it’s snowing!’

    It’s markedly different from hot summer-y Christmasses in Melbourne where traditions run to the sporting kind. A spot of backyard cricket or walk along the beach to make room for Christmas pudding and brandy custard after stuffing oneself with cold ham, chicken and prawns on Christmas Day is followed by the cricket (the Boxing Day Test) and the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day. And cheesy as it is, there are always Carols by Candlelight at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Christmas Eve, whether you are there or just watching it on the telly, and the Myer city store Christmas windows, spreading a little bit more of that Melbourne Christmas magic.

    • Ariana Mullins October 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

      Kym, I totally relate to the sense of wonder at the first snowfall. I had gone skiing as a little kid in the mountains of California, but I had never seen it actually snow until I was 14. So magical! I still have this really strong urge to dive into snow drifts and try to swim in them like they’re water. Not sure where that comes from, but it’s a fun feeling! We also have had Christmas barbecue weather in Los Angeles, and we WISHED for a little cool in the Philippines at that time of year. I do love the coziness of Christmas here…

  5. Kathy Shea Mormino October 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    I would like to invite you to join us at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!
    https://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/clever-chicks-blog-hop-5-happy-hen.html

    I hope to see you there!
    Cheers!
    Kathy
    The Chicken Chick

  6. Manuela October 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    As soon as I saw the picture I knew it was Bavaria!! I am from Erlangen, Bavaria, and my heart aches when I see pictures like that.

    • Ariana Mullins November 5, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      Manuela, I think that if I grew up around that kind of scenery, I would also be incredibly homesick each Autumn! Hoping you find some similar beauty, wherever you are now….

  7. Robin November 1, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    Such a beautiful post! And those pictures are gorgeous. I’m finally finding a wonderful satisfaction in letting myself move and connect with each season. For so long I dreaded and despised Winter, but this perspective is SO much more refreshing. 🙂

    Thanks for linking up to Thank Your Body Thursday. I hope you’ll come back and add more great posts. http://www.thankyourbody.com

    • Ariana Mullins November 5, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      Hi Robin, thanks for stopping by! I think that for people who didn’t grow up with very cold winters, it is always a struggle to adapt (although I don’t know where you’re from, and there are plenty of people who did have cold seasons as children who still struggle.) I think the major tradeoff for me is the incredible beauty of Autumn, which I didn’t experience in the warm places I lived before. Wishing you a restful winter season!

  8. SarahMummy January 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    What a lovely post! I dread winter, but I always cope with it when it comes. It must be weird for someone who has never really experienced seasons at first.

  9. Jess @ CatchaSingleThought January 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    This is so lovely, I like the way you’ve matched the seasons with how we behave – it’s so true!

  10. asturiandiary January 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    A beautiful post. Living as I do in the countryside and having a garden has made me really appreciate the seasons more than ever before. I would now hate to live anywhere that didn’t enjoy the full four seasons!

  11. Older Mum January 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Such a lovely post, and can really relate to your eloquent words – I’ve never really been a Winter person – I’m quite sensitive to the cold and can feel quite down. My favourite seasons are the Spring and Autumn – love the energy about them.

  12. Suzanne January 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    You bet I can relate! Living in England (where no season EVER lasts for very long!), summer is far too short-lived for my liking and rarely makes a significant appearance at all 🙁 I love this post and your positive thinking behind the seasons. Thank you for sharing on Oldies but Goodies 🙂

  13. 40s Chic January 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    I love how you describe the seasons and how you’re feeling, I’m very much the same. I love the summer and hate the cold, but I try to get outside every day in winter and appreciate it for what it is and all the cold beauty it brings with it. My spirits definitely life though on that first day of spring, when you can feel the air every so slightly warmer and you know longer days are coming.

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