Updated 22nd May 2022
So what exactly is seasonal living? This is a question I get asked often when I mention that living in tune with the seasons forms part of the ethos behind The Smallest Light. I often direct people to my favourite seasonal living blogs or social media accounts, but I thought it was really about time I wrote up some of my feelings on this and share some of my own practices around building a life with seasonal rhythm.
Connection is the word which sums up seasonal living in many respects for me. It’s a way of living which encourages us to develop a relationship with the seasons, which in turn strengthens our connection to this earth. Instead of looking at nature as an outside observer, seasonal living encourages us to live our lives as one of the integral threads of this ever evolving seasonal tapestry we live within.
Feeling a part of things: of the turning of the earth and the seasons below your feet, the buzzing of the bees and the blooming of the flowers they land on, the arrival of crops, the coming and going of the tides, and the moon, sun and planets performing their cosmic dance, just outside the window there.Lia Leendertz – The Almanac 2019
What does this look like in practice though?
Noticing the seasonal signs and changes
One simple step into seasonal living is choosing to immerse yourself in your own local, natural surroundings and taking notice of the changes you observe over time. Whether you are an urban or country dweller, there will be signs of the seasons which are specific to your own patch. Whether that looks like spending time in open fields or a city park, any small pockets of green space can give us a glimpse of the seasons in motion.
When I take a certain road out of our town in February, I am seeking out the grassy verge which will produce the first daffodils. When I take a walk through a nearby woodland anytime in April, I’ll be looking for the purple carpet of bluebells, which appear every spring under the gnarly old sycamore tree. If I watch the late evening skies from our back garden in May, I’ll see the swallows swooping back from their warm winter in South Africa.
Small observations which repeat each year, knitting together to slowly and surely build a connection and ultimately a relationship with the patch of land I call home.
For more detailed inspiration on finding ways to connect with nature within city and urban environments, you might enjoy a read of this article from the Permaculture Research Group, which has some really helpful suggestions.
Over 80% of the UK population live in urban areas, and this is projected to rise to 92% by 2030, leading to larger cities and more challenges for wildlife. This means towns and cities are rapidly becoming where most people will experience nature, therefore key places to protect the UK’s biodiversity. We need to learn more, connect with each other and act together to protect our urban nature, and we need to do it now.Urban Nature Project
Eating seasonal foods
Eating seasonally is another pathway into seasonal living. It simply means trying to eat the foods that are naturally ready to harvest at the same time of year that you are eating them. This rhythm of eating means we naturally become more aligned with the seasonal patterns and gives yet more meaning and importance to the shifts in our natural environment. We can look forward to sweet, juicy strawberries in summer and comforting root veg in autumn. We can fully appreciate the fleeting window of opportunity we have each year with them.
This was the norm for generations past, it was a given that certain foods would only be available in a certain season. But that is not the world we live in now. We can pretty much access any food all year round, dependant on our budgets of course.
My tip would be to begin with getting to know what foods are in season when, then implement small changes over time. We have done this over the past few years and I hope we can keep building on it. When we have busy lives, it can often feel overwhelming to completely overhaul our shopping habits and diets on top of our already full load of chores.
“While it’s easy to enjoy blueberries with your breakfast in winter, being accustomed to buying whatever we want, whenever we want, means we are becoming disconnected from our food and its relationship with nature.” We need to learn to “eat the right thing at the right time”Rob Moore – Behaviour Change
One resource I have found particularly helpful is the Eat Seasonably Campaign – this website has so many useful guides to what foods are in season as well as many tips on beginning to grow your own fruit and veg too. Love this brilliant wallchart which they have created too.
Eating seasonably is also far more beneficial to our environment and is way of eating more sustainably. When growing fruit and veg in season, the process requires lower levels of artificial inputs like heating, lighting, pesticides and fertilisers. So seasonable produce has a much lower environmental impact, a huge plus point to implementing changes in our eating habits!
Bringing the seasons into your home
We don’t all have the privilege of living in a way which gifts us the space and time to get outdoors in the natural world regularly. So let’s also look at what can we do indoors to encourage a more seasonal way of living.
Each season has it’s own distinct feel and a beauty of it’s own. Bringing in natural elements is a simple way to welcome and celebrate the seasons indoors. Small elements such as budding branches in spring, a bowl of pinecones during the winter or a tangle of sweet peas in the summer, these simple touches keep us grounded in the season even when we are warmly tucked up inside.
For more inspiration have a read of this recent blog post on creating a seasonal home, written by contributor Zoe Hooley. In this post Zoe takes us through her simple suggestions for inviting the seasons into our homes and shares some beautiful images of her own nature inspired home styling too.
If you are seeking ways to create a more seasonal living space, using natural home fragrances can offer an intentional rhythm to scenting your home as the year turns.
Using seasonal essential oils blends can provide a touchstone for connecting with the cycles of the natural world, from inside your own home. I like to think that each blend can be a signal of the natural shifts in the circle of seasons, which in turn can generate comfort in the moment and a feeling of interconnection with nature.
Scent is an incredibly powerful tool for connecting with memories and emotion, by bringing the same seasonal scents into our home spaces, in a regular annual pattern, we can harness the positive emotional benefits of those scents. We can bring a sense of natural rhythm, comfort and familiarity into our indoor spaces.
Observe your emotions each season
How do you feel in each season? Do you have a favourite time of year? Is there a season which you find particularly challenging? These are questions to consider which might give you more of an insight into how you need to support yourself emotionally as the seasons turn. If you like to journal then these could be good starting points for your writing.
We each have unique relationships to the seasons which may vary according to our past experiences, our health, our locality – it’s a useful process to try and note some of our reactions and thoughts down, so we can begin to know our relationship to each season in a little more depth.
When you know what your own emotional seasonal pattern looks like, it becomes easier to look for ways to gather support when you need it, or plan your time according to your unique annual energy flow.
Further reading and resources on seasonal living
See below for some more useful resources which delve into various aspects of creating a more seasonal life. I have also included a few Instagram accounts which regularly provide me with a dose of inspiration and encouragement on this journey.
If you have any other suggestions or seasonal living tips for me to add – I would love to hear from you, drop me a comment below or come say hello over on Instagram
Books on Seasonal Living
Articles and Blogs