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Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons
July 10, 2008
Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life.
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July Calendar Update
The July calendar is up. Celebrate the feast days of Mary Magdalene and St. Martha. Learn about holidays like O-Bon, Ocean Day, Dog Days and Ice Cream Day, at
My Season: Going to Seed
The honeysuckle and linden trees are blooming in Seattle and filling the air with sweet fragrance. But this year, more than ever, and perhaps because I've been studying botany for my writing about flowers, I'm noticing the amazing ways flowers change to seeds.
The poppies are forming magnificent brown pepper pots. The cheery orange coreopsis petals are shriveling into brown disks clutching a nest of black seeds. I especially like the way the petals of the rhododendrons drop off, leaving a green tube that swells. I can hardly wait to see what the next transformation will be.
In my life, things have settled down after the crises of the spring. My daughter is recovering. My best friend also. I'm getting used to the loss of my brother although grief still hangs around in the background, surprising me with the exhaustion it brings.
I'm trying to take it easy this summer which is why I've reprinted one of my favorite articles from 2003 about burnout: Dog Days of Summer. I'm hoping that leaving myself plenty of free time will allow the room for new ideas to bloom.
This month, I'm meeting with my wonderful business coach, Noelle Remington (www.lifedoula.com), and have scheduled a consultation with one of my favorite mentors, Mark Silver (www.heartofbusiness.com), all with the glorious intention of transforming School of the Seasons. I look forward to launching something new (or maybe just clarifying what I currently offer) in September.
May your summer bring you space for new growth,
New Slow Time Book News
The Slow Time book stopped climbing up the ranks at Lulu, my print-on-demand publisher. (Last month it was at 706, now it's 716). If you're interested in buying a copy (great summer reading) you can order it directly from Lulu here.
I finally created a Listmania list on Amazon which features my Favorite Books on Time that are not Time Management. If you've got my Slow Time book, you'll recognize many of these as I quote them frequently:
If you’d rather read my Slow Time book slowly, I’m posting the chapters, one a month, on the Slow Time book website. The seventh chapter, “Moons to Months” will be posted on July 15.
Living in Season: Dog Days of Summer [August 2003]
With that ominous paragraph W.G. Sebald starts his novel The Rings of Saturn, a strange, rambling narrative that wanders all over the place like the journey through Suffolk it describes.
You can read all about the Dog Days in my calendar on July 2nd although there are many different dates assigned, including July 4, July 17, July 22 (St Margaret's day), July 28 (the start of the fruit harvest in Greece) and August 18 (or at the start of Leo). So many dates but all linked to one thing: the rising of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.
Sirius is the dog tag around the neck of the dog depicted in the constellation Canis Major, which Sirius is the dog tag around the neck of the dog depicted in the constellation Canis Major, which leaps up to the left of Orion the Huntsman (some say he is jumping up at the Hare at Orion's feet). You can find Sirius by following the line made by the three stars in Orion's belt, down and to the left. If you're a savvy star-watcher (I'm not), you're now saying "but Orion is only visible in winter!" That's true, the star that once rose at dawn around summer solstice in Egypt in 4,000 BCE now rises around dawn in February in the United States.
But in earlier times, the Dog Star rose at the hottest part of the year, a time when the searing heat of the sun brought sickness and made life precarious, like the similar period right after Winter Solstice, the six weeks before Candlemas, when people were likely to perish of cold and starvation. (Of course, in the southern hemisphere the opposite conditions prevail.)
Arthur Waskow describes this period most beautifully in his opening paragraph on Tisha B'Av, the Jewish festival which occurs at the height of summer's heat (Aug 10 this year):
The Greeks considered this period especially dangerous for men, based on their belief that men were hot and dry, thus easily dessicated by the heat of summer, while women, naturally cold and wet, were likely to be more lascivious and thus dangerous to their weakened men. This belief persisted throughout the ages, with men advised to eschew sex during the Dog Days, as in this advice from The Husbandmen's Practice in 1729:
I like the notion that there's a time of year that is particularly dangerous to men because women are so wanton. It reminds me of the belief that May was the women's month and thus an unlucky time to marry, for the woman would have the power in the marriage. This may be a time period that women want to recapture, a time for asserting desire and kindling the fires of passion.
Mary B Kelly, writing about Russian folklore, mentions the belief that the Rusalka arrived (also during the height of summer) on the Monday after Trinity Sunday bringing with them Rusalka sickness. This was considered dangerous and women were not allowed to spin, weave, sleep during the day or wash their hair. They wore garlic and walnut leaves for protection and spent time gathering flowers and making bouquets for their lovers. Kelly speculates that Rusalka sickness was a kind of lovesickness that was ritually indulged and then banished.
But I also wonder if the Dog Days offer us a chance to recognize the dangers of infatuation and lust, the way they burn up desire, like the Gardens of Adonis which flourish for a brief time period, then wither and die. Some lines from a Cole Porter song, "Just One of Those Things," seem appropriate here:
Or perhaps the Dog Days provide a chance, as Waskow suggests, to examine where we are burnt out, where we need to regroup and gather our resources, nurture ourselves by withdrawing from too much activity rather than pushing forward.
What I'm Reading:
Poor Will's Almanack
A woman who heard me read my essay on phenology at a reading at Jack Straw Studios in May, sent a copy of my essay to Bill Felker, who writes a phenology column for his local newspaper in Yellow Springs, Ohio and also publishes almanacs and tracks phonological events at his web site
Bill turned around and sent me copies of his almanacks and I've been luxuriating in his attentive writing ever since. He predicts weather patterns, lists flowering plants for every day of year, provides a pollen count and a SAD index (hours of sunlight available), describes what's happening in the night sky, and writes a perceptive and elegant essay to begin each month. I love Bill's writing and his sensibility and will write more about his work almanacs in general in a later newsletter. This is what I'll be giving out as gifts next Christmas.
In keeping with the Dog Days theme, I wanted to mention my favorite book of last year, which I did give as a Christmas present. My friend who received it as a gift said it was “the most beautiful writing” he had ever read. I agree. The writing is stunning (Doty is a poet), the topic is poignant (Doty deals with the loss of both a partner and their two dogs during the time frame of the book) and the level of thought both complicated and deep. It's a book I expect to reread often and find new layers and riches in every time.
Lammas Holiday Packet
Ah! The mysterious, ineffable holiday of Lammas.
This illustrated, 30+ page portfolio includes:
You can view a sample from the packet at:
It is available in an email version for $10 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery).
Summer Correspondence Course
Due to popular demand, the summer correspondence course is available again.
You can join the class which is in session or opt to receive the packets without enrolling in the class.
The class includes nine packets covering Correspondences of Summer, Natural Studies, Summer Feasts, Summer Crafts, Summer Goddesses, Summer Magic, Summer Personal Growth, Midsummer and Lammas.
The cost for the online class, which includes feedback and interaction with other students, is $99. To register go to:
To order the packets only, go to:
Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
This is a graceful way to incorporate spirit and seasons into your life. Use it along with your usual planning tools and calendar to help you:
Every week for 52 weeks you will receive a brief email with a reflection on the qualities of the present time period and one suggestion, task or question that you can savor throughout the week.
Start whenever you like. When you order the Calendar Companion, you will receive the next week's calendar companion, along with an introductory email.
$26 for a year's worth of gentle reminders to help you stay aligned with natural rhythms. To order or to see a sample reflection, click here.
Signs of Summer
Here's a lovely sign of summer from Kami in Eugene, Oregon on June 16:
Send me your signs of the season and we will post them on the website at Signs of the Season.
Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2008
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