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Living in Season Newsletter

Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 2, Number 6
March 25, 2004, Lady Day

Contents

  • Welcome
  • My Season: Death & Resurrection
  • Responses: Tree Stories
  • Look Up! Stars in a Row
  • Living in Season: Eating Locally
  • Sample Pages from Eostre: Ukrainian Eggs
  • Holiday Packet: Eostre
  • Holiday Packet: May Day
  • Signs of Spring
  • Copyright
  • Subscribe - Unsubscribe

Welcome
Welcome to my periodical newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward it.

If a friend send you this newsletter, welcome! You can subscribe for free at my website: www.schooloftheseasons.com or by sending an email to:
livinginseason-subscribe@schooloftheseasons.com
We never rent, sell or give away subscriber information.

My Season: Death and Resurrection
During the past few weeks, I've been dealing with the loss of my friend, Deborah Simuel, who died of cancer. Hers was not an easy death. She was in pain and scared and she did not want to go. I felt somewhat shaken in my beliefs (and hopes for) life after death.

Monday was her funeral. It was one of those days of magical, changeable weather here in the Northwest. It was just beginning to rain when I arrived at the cemetery in Kent; where the grass was frosted with the bright blue of forget-me-nots. The service was held under a canopy and at various times the sun broke through the clouds while the rain continued, so the air around us was sparkling with golden light. Then just as the minister spoke the final words, the rain came down in earnest, a steady patter on the roof of the canopy. It seemed like a blessing.

Afterwards, I was talking with Daniel, Deborah's former husband. He told me that his mother had been praying for Deborah the night she died. Thelma looked up from her Bible to see Deborah in the doorway, her hair long and flowing as it used to be before the chemotherapy, a smile on her lips. She said, "I made it! I made it!" and then disappeared. So that was another blessing.

And so is the promise of new life that comes with spring.

Feedback Loop: Tree Stories
The tree-hugger article brought me more responses than any article I've ever written. I was delighted to hear from so many other tree huggers. Many tree-huggers apparently started out as children, sitting in the branches of weeping willows, which reminded me of my attachment to the weeping willow in my neighbor's backyard. Such magical trees.

Other favorite trees included: hemlock, silver maple, eucalyptus (yes! one of my favorites-my siblings and neighborhood friends built and defended a treehouse in a eucalyptus on White Oak Avenue in Van Nuys, CA) maple, sycamore, poplar, weeping ash and alder. Several people described the womb-like feeling of being inside a hollow tree trunk.

I learned about a spiritual leader who consults trees at a nearby arboretum when needing mentoring. I also heard about the woman in New York who decided, as a way of alleviating her depression over 9/11, to plant a tree for each person who was killed. Marsha names the trees in her yard. And Helene, who is obviously very serious about her tree-hugging, bought a small woods!

I was so enjoying the stories I received that I thought about creating an anthology of tree stories and then Amy sent me a link to a wonderful web site that has already done this. Check out: www.spiritoftrees.org

Look Up! Stars in a Row
If your night sky isn't obscured by clouds (as it has been here in Seattle), you are in for a rare treat in the next few days as all five planets visible with the naked eye can be seen. Thanks to Michael for sending me this link to an article explaining where to look and when.

Living in Season: Eating Locally
At the turning points of the year, the two equinoxes, people all over the world celebrate the same way: feasting on seasonal foods. At Spring Equinox, this feast is called by many names: Easter, Passover, Noruz (Persian New Year) or St. Joseph's Day. No matter what the name, it always features a table decorated with emblems of spring (eggs, flowers), symbolic food items that represent good luck and prosperity for the coming year, and whatever fresh foods are in season.

I always make a pledge at the start of the new year, and this year I'm making a pledge to eat only locally grown foods, after reading several inspiring books. Joan Dye Gussow in This Organic Life writes about her commitment to grow as much of her own food as possible in her garden in a small town on the Hudson River in New York State. Although she provides many appetizing recipes and passionate arguments in favor of locally-grown foods, I don't think I can survive on the food I could grow in my 30 square foot community garden.

I was more intrigued by Paul Nabhan's book Coming Home to Eat. Nabhan was inspired to spend a year eating only foods grown within 250 miles of his home in Arizona, after visiting his relatives in Lebanon where he was welcomed with a feast of native foods of the area, including alcohol distilled by an uncle. He wondered what it would be like to live within your foodshed, eating food that could easily be transported to your door, rather than imported halfway around the world at great cost. He studied and learned the traditional foodways of the native peoples of his area, who found returningalleviated health problems common on a Western diet. I'm not sure I would eat a road-killed rattlesnake, or raise
my own turkeys and slaughter them, as he did, but I was inspired by his vision.

So I just subscribed to a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group which gathers food and flowers from several local farms and delivers it to my neighborhood once a week. I will find out what it's like to build my meals around the fruits and produce of the season, instead of being able to eat whatever I like all year around. I look forward to a more intimate connection with the land and the seasons, through the pleasures of the table.

Resources:
Community Support Agriculture: to find a CSA near you, type in your state or zip code in at this website run by the Alternative Farming Systems Information Center:
http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa/csastate.htm

Gussow, Joan Dye, This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, Chelsea Green Publishing 2002
Nabhan, Paul, Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Food, Norton 2002
The Slow Food organization is another great organization promoting the values of eating well and locally.
www.slowfoods.org or www.slowfoodsusa.org

New: Sample Pages from Eostre
I usually do my Ukrainian egg dyeing party on the last Sunday in March. I invite all of my women friends to come to my house for an afternoon of sacred egg making. We make amulet eggs, eggs to carry special wishes for the new year, using the traditional designs and tools: beeswax, candles, kitskas and jars full of the jeweled deep colors of Ukrainian dyes.

I've reproduced the pages on the sacred meaning of dyed eggs, and on my Ukrainian egg decorating ritual from the Eostre packet as free samples on the website. You can download them here.

Holiday Packet: Eostre/Easter
It's too late for Spring Equinox but you can still use the Eostre packet to celebrate Easter and Passover since the 50 page packet of holiday information contains:

  • recipes for tansy cakes, hot cross buns, cheesecakes & charoset
  • directions and designs for making pysanky (Ukrainian eggs)
  • instructions for cascarones & natural egg dyes
  • traditional egg games like cracking eggs, egg rolling and pace egging
  • songs and much more

$9.00 + $3 shipping/handling. Please allow 10 days for delivery. An email version is also available for $7. It will be sent to you as an attached Word file within 24 hours. Order in our Store.

Holiday Packet: May Day
"May Day is rich in customs, perhaps more so than any other day of the year." So says the Oxford Companion to the Year. If you are interested in learning about some of these customs, order my May Day packet, an illustrated portfolio of over 30 pages which includes:

  • Ancient traditions
  • Instructions for creating a Maypole and dancing around it
  • Recipes for May wine and other traditional May Day foods
  • Special May Day divinations
  • The language of the flowers
  • Ideas for May Day gifts.

$9.00 + $3 shipping/handling. Please allow 10 days for delivery. An email version is also available for $7. It will be sent to you as an attached Word file within 24 hours. Order in our Store.

Signs of Spring
Continuing the theme of tree stories-Stelladona writes from Los Angeles about the deep violet flowers of the jacaranda trees. "A jacaranda-lined lined street is a canopy of little purple stars. Fallen petals color the lawns and street — and sometimes your car — with soft purple velvet. It is truly breathtaking."

In Seattle, we get the same effect when the pink petals of the cherry trees begin to fall, as they are right now. The gutters are filled with pink, the sidewalks and cars spattered with pink confetti. When the wind blows, it shakes loose a cloud of soft pink flakes. I call it the "season of pink snow" and it's one of my favorites.

And Arthur from Jersey City, NJ sent me this sensual image of tree sexuality: "The hazel tree in my yard opened its catkins in February, the demure female flowers extended their red pistils in reception at the same time."

If you've noticed any signs of the season where you live, send them to me and I will post them on my website. I'm a little behind in my email so if you've sent me a Sign of Spring and I have not yet responded to it, it should be posted by the end of this week. See what others have posted here.

Copyright
Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2004.
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.

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