The Paradox of Seasonal Living


You can count on it as sure as the sun rises in the morning and sets at night.  September 1 means pumpkin spice everything.  Facebook will be flooded with advertisements and recipes for pumpkin spice candles, coffee, cupcakes, tea, candies.  And then as dependable as the tide, along comes December 1 and a wave of icy peppermint-flavored confections.  As March approaches, we’re so over peppermint and in its stead, the earliest of spring berries.  They call it seasonal eating.  I call it marketing wizardry.  We have a very narrow, very romantic idea of what it is to live seasonally.  Yes, it involves our palate but the immediacy and the sensuality are pure American distortion.  The paradox of seasonal living is that while your feet are in one season, your eyes and mind are on the next.  Real, true seasonal living is to cling the living hope that the next season WILL arrive, in its order and in its time, just as it always has.

Right now, it’s early August here in Central Ohio, the height of our growing season, but our focus isn’t on the summer garden.  Of course, there are veggies to can and herbs to dry and that will all be attended to, but our focus now is on stacking firewood, airing quilts, thinning the turnips we’ll harvest in November and beginning Christmas gifts.  When December arrives with its all things peppermint and the last-minute scramble to buy the perfect gifts, we’ll be gathered around the fire, snuggled under fresh, warm quilts perusing the seed catalogs that arrive mid-month and dreaming of those first red buds on the Maple trees that mean spring is close.  January and February, we’ll spend our month planting hearty greens in their little starter trays, in anticipation of the March or April thaw.  In March, we plant our tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, because the heat of July will be here soon.  As I said, it’s a strange paradox.

There’s a rhythm and a hope that accompanies seasonal living that goes well beyond the immediate gratification of pumpkin spice coffee in September.  Our bodies crave that rhythm, just as they crave sleep when they’re tired and food when they’re hungry.  Our bodies crave the light, sweetness of spring berries, the cool crisp of summer greens, the starchy warmth of fall pumpkins. We crave seasons of rest, seasons of refreshment, seasons of growth…but it’s the hope of that next season that sustains us.    Til next time, with hope…