Here in Somerset, the nights are drawing in. The leaves are falling steadily from the trees. And the ground underfoot is considerably muddier and boggier than it was before, if not completely submerged. Pretty much par for the course in this autumnal season. I don’t like it, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.
There’s a natural rhythm to the year, after all. And we can either fight against it or just roll with it. I prefer the latter.
For people like me who grow much of their own food and spend a lot of their time outdoors, the progress of our planet on its path around the Sun is marked by the passing seasons and by the corresponding changes in daylight hours, weather, plant growth, animal activity and other aspects of the world around us.
For others, the year is structured around term times, shooting seasons, sports schedules, religious festivals, family occasions or other milestones. But there remains a rhythm to it all. An ebb and flow of activity, energy and patterns in our daily life.
I have tried in the past to maintain my daily schedule of work, exercise, dog walking, volunteering and leisure activities in the same way regardless of the time of year. And it’s perhaps fair to say that it has not always ended well.
Running downhill at speed through dense woodland while attached to an exuberant and supremely fit Labrador, for example, is great fun on a light, sunny summer’s evening. But doing the same thing on a muddy winter evening in the pitch black is substantially less likely to be enjoyable and substantially more likely to end up with someone running full-pelt into a tree.
And trying to maintain a hectic working schedule throughout the springtime, while also finding time to sow, plant and nurture the fruit and vegetables that will see us through the next twelve months, tends to result in me fulfilling my horticultural duties too early in the year, too late or at eleven o’clock on a Sunday evening.
Consequently, I’ve learned (through extensive trial and error, with a specific focus on error) to adapt my activities and schedule to work in harmony with the passing seasons of the year.
I try to take on less work in spring and autumn, for example, so that I can devote sufficient time and energy to planting and harvesting. And I run more in spring and autumn, when it’s cool and light, but less in summer (when it’s hot) and winter (when it’s cold, wet and raining).
The long, dark winter evenings also allow me to ramp up my crafting activities. I do more astronomy in winter, too, because the dark nights are actually a good thing. Whereas the bright summer evenings lend themselves to outdoor projects, more adventurous running routes and long walks with the dogs.
This seasonally-aligned approach not only makes my everyday life easier and more enjoyable, but also connects me – spiritually, if not practically – with those who have come before us. Those who would have risen with the Sun and who would have relied on the passing of the seasons to sustain themselves and their way of life. And, indeed, those who still do.
I find this all rather reassuring. Because we’re all part of the natural world. Its seasons are our seasons. And as with all aspects of the world around us, we can fight against it if we wish. Or we can attune ourselves to the rhythm of the year and live with it in harmony.
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