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Living in Season from Waverly Fitzgerald

Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons

June 9, 2009


roseSeasonal Haiku
Living in Season: Plant Time
Coming Attractions:
• Living in Season
• Summer Sale
• Scents of Summer
Living in Season: The Scent of Summer
Perfume Books & Other Obsessions
Calendar Companion Call for Photos
For Your Summer Pleasure:
• Midsummer Packet

• Summer Natural Planner
Signs of Summer
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Seasonal Poem:

Speechless before
These budding green spring leaves
In blazing sunlight

Translated by Sam Hamill

My Season: Plant Time

Last Sunday, I was late to an afternoon BBQ and my excuse was that I was working in my garden and lost track of time. What I said was “I was on plant time.” Then I realized that I had defined a new kind of time.

Plant time, of course, is natural time (and if you’ve read my book, Slow Time, you know that natural time is my favorite kind of time). But unlike the seasons, or day and night, which have a somewhat predictable, cyclic nature, plant time speeds up and slows down in random ways. For instance, plant time sometimes makes me hurry, as when I’ve cut the peonies and have to rush home to get them into vases. Other times plant time slows me down, as when I’m weeding and hours go by that seem like minutes.

May summer bring you many opportunities to dazzle and shine,
Waverly Fitzgerald


Living in Season

I’ve been busy working on Living in Season: my new web site which will look and behave much like a magazine. My goal is to create a community that will nurture the concepts of slow time, sacred time and seasonal time. My hope is that working with others who share these ideas will stimulate my creativity.

I’m working with my favorite web designer, Joanna Powell Colbert, and she’s created a beautiful template. We’ve postponed the launch date yet again, because we’re both working on other projects as well. But look for my announcement that it’s live around the middle of July. 

Scents of Summer

One of my favorite magazines, The Sun, has a section called Readers Write in which they publish short, beautifully written personal accounts from readers on topics they announce in advance. I’m going to start a similar feature in my magazine, and want to invite you to begin thinking about the topic of Scents of Summer. Don’t send them yet, but start thinking about what particular scent recalls a past summer or represents summer where you live now.

Summer Sale

Prices in the School of the Season store will go up once the new web site is launched mid-July. I’ve increased the price of the holiday packets from $15 to $20 to cover the cost of a new system of delivering them (you’ll get your e-book immediately instead of having to wait for me to send it). And when I calculated the actual cost of creating the print versions, I realized I needed to hike those prices up even more, from $15 to $25 each to cover my costs.

So order now if you want a great deal, a deal that will never return. You can see what’s available at the store.

Living in Season: Scents of Summer

If I had to choose one scent of summer, I would be hard pressed. Luckily I am focusing on this topic for the entire month of June at my blog,

We have just passed through the delightful season of the iris (one of my favorite scented flowers) and I’m about to post an entry about an iris walk in my neighborhood where I smell the different colored irises and try to describe their scents. Right now we’ve entered the swoon of roses and I zigzag from rose to rose on my path, sniffing each one. The rose that blooms in the vacant lot across the street is my favorite, and I can inhale its rich, dreamy fragrance while sitting at my desk. I wish I could describe it (that’s why I read perfume books, see below).

The scent of the rose is competing with peony in the vase on the piano. I don’t have a really fragrant peony in my garden. This white one, with a few petals tinged with a touch of red, smalls a bit like pepper and green decay.

One of the delights of this summer has been discovering new scents. I thought I knew all the fragrant flowers in my neighborhood but there are still plenty of surprises. I will be walking along and suddenly I am in the midst of an exquisite fragrance. Sometimes I can find the source and other times it remains a mystery. So far this summer I’ve “discovered” the creamy vanilla scent of wisterias and the grape-jelly scent of black locust flowers, but other scents have remained elusive.

Summer Read: Perfume Books

perfumeReading perfume books is almost as sensual an indulgence as wearing perfume. Which is what it leads to. Despite the fragrance-unfriendliness of Seattle (where many events are advertised as fragrance-free). I only dab a bit of perfume on my wrist, so I can sniff it whenever I raise my hand but I hope it will not be obvious to others. I don’t want to waft around in a strident cloud of scent—that’s called sillage, by the way, when you can smell someone’s perfume after they’ve passed by.

The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr started this obsession. It’s the story of Luca Turin, a scientist and perfume critic, who proposed a new theory of smell, the vibrational theory, which was not popular with the scientific establishment. After reading this book and enjoying the exquisite language Turin uses to describe perfumes, I longed to read his book of perfume reviews which had only been published in French and was out of print.

Now it is reprinted as Perfumes: The Guide, and expanded, with reviews from Turin and his wife, Tania Sanchez. The descriptions are delicious—any lover of language will love them, even if you don’t love perfume.

Turin has also written his own account of his theory, a little heavier on the chemistry than Burr’s, but covering the same ground: The Secret of Scent. And if you get hooked on Turin’s sensibility (I am), you can find a blog he wrote which preceded and prefigures the relaunch of Perfumes: The Guide.

Chandler Burr, now the perfume critic for the New York Times, has a new book, A Year of Scent, a braided story following the launch of a celebrity perfume (Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely) and the development of a new perfume for Hermes by a French perfumer, Jean Claude Ellena, who comes from a traditional French perfume background but has developed a new approach to creating perfumes.

I also enjoyed reading Mandy Aftel’s Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume, in which she relates the history of perfume and describes the elements of a perfume. An even more fabulous volume on perfume (because of the gorgeous photographs) is Perfume: The Art and Science of Scent by Cathy Newman.

If you get hooked on perfume as a result of these books, you can turn to The Perfumed Court, to quench your appetite. They buy expensive bottles of perfume and decant them into smaller sample bottles so you can try out a perfume (or a series of perfumes by one perfumer or perfumes on a theme). Instead of paying $95 for one bottle of Mimosa Pour Moi, my new favorite perfume, I ordered a small sample for $5.95. If I were a true perfume addict, I would be bidding on bottles on ebay. And reading perfume blogs. Which I do (when I have time to read blogs, that is). Some favorites: Now Smell This, Glass Petal Smoke, BoisdeJasmin

Where does reading about perfume lead? It’s a dangerous path down which I am treading, from books to perfume to perfume blogs, and it has led me, at last, to chemistry. Yes, I am now reading chemistry blogs as well. My favorite:

Molecule of the Day

Calendar Companion Call for Photos

I’ve enjoyed all of the photographs I received for my Calendar Companion project. I’ve got about half of the photographs I need to illustrate the print version of the Calendar Companion (coming in November) but I’m still collecting photographs for the remaining topics.

I’m looking for pictures that will convey a sense of the current season (and here I’m thinking North America--with an apology to those of you down South-- since my themes are chosen with North American seasons in mind). I need photographs to illustrate the themes below and I prefer photographs taken during the season they are illustrating. I like photographs of natural subjects, for instance close-ups of plants or birds or amazing landscape photographs, the kind you might see in Audubon or National Geographic.

Here are the upcoming themes (and a few from the past) that I’d like to illustrate in photographs:

  • Spring (Feb/March/April) themes
  • Spring fever (birds, birds mating)
  • Spring clearing (fast, Lent)
  • Thinning (as in too many plants, too many things to do)
  • Summer (May/June/July):
  • Freedom
  • Do less

If I use your photograph, you will receive credit, plus a free subscription to the Calendar Companion for the rest of the year and a free copy of the Calendar Companion Weekly Planner for 2010.

Send your submissions to

For Your Summer Pleasure:

Holiday Packet: Midsummer

This illustrated portfolio contains over 40 pages of ideas for celebrating Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, Herb Evening, St. John’s Day and Litha. It tells you how to
--gather and use magical Midsummer herbs like St John's Wort
--prepare a picnic of traditional Midsummer foods
--use the petals of roses to make conserves, butter and rosaries
--create Gardens of Adonis
and much more

You can read an excerpt from the packet on making wreaths (a traditional way to celebrate Midsummer) at this link:

Last time available at these prices!

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). Order in our Store.

New Illustrated Calendar Companion

Now illustrated with beautiful photographs of nature from School of the Seasons reads which illustrate the themes.

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. 

Natural Planner/Summer Workbook

One of my natural planners who lives in Florida just wrote me to express her appreciation for this method of planning. She said that this was the first spring she didn't overload her to-do list. And, as a result of the dreams she set at the start of the year, she moved from the suburbs to a 100 year old farmhouse on 150 acres near the woods where she is enjoying reconnecting with the seasons.

If you'd like to try a new way of planning your life, try the Summer workbook of the Natural Planner. It helps you set goals for the months of summer that are in alignment with the season and your relationship to its themes.

Last time available at these prices!

You can order the Summer Natural Planner or the whole year at:


Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2009
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:
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