The skies are blue, the sun is high and hot over our garden as the flowers around are blooming, opened up to the bees that noisily thrum from one rosy set of petals to another. Summer seems to be really here this week- right on time, after Midsummer’s day. Here in Britain we love to fixate on the weather- is it approriate for the season (often not!), is it convenient (often not) or is the weather doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing at this time of year, or this month.
We’ve recently finished reading Little House in the Big Woods as a readaloud at bedtime, and it was lovely to return to such a familiar book from my own childhood. I remember well reading about the happenings in the Wilder household, their family relationships and learning all about what they did in each season in the woods, or wherever they were in that part of the series.
Beginning in the Autumn, Laura shares with us as readers exactly how their day to day life changes as they prepare for the colder winter months- preparing food (they didn’t have the luxury of supermarkets), banking up the outside of the house to keep the cold out, and their cosy evenings spent watching Pa cleaning his guns and telling tales. Throughout the year their daily lives change. As children they spend time playing, but often watch or help as Ma makes butter and cheese, as the harvest comes in, to take a trip to town and to Grandpa’s for a dance. When the full year has come around and again the nights draw in dark and cold, Laura is content knowing that their evenings will be again full of fiddle playing and tale telling while they stay snug and warm indoors.
Our seasons aren’t as obvious as those who did, and continue to rely on the land for their food and provisions, and we don’t have as extreme snows – yet the reminder to embrace our season for what it is, and to spend our time doing what needs to be done in that particular season resonates a lot. With the past few years of allotmenting and now planting some more flowers in the garden too, we are beginning to see that natural cycle of planting, watering, growing, harvesting in the things that we grow (or try to grow). But our lives are often the same- and yet we can just do what we ‘always’ do.
We can get into a routine (which can be great!) but forget that that can and should shift as the seasons, or our lives shift. I get used to having things in a certain place but then when they’re moved around it feels so refreshing even just to have a small visual change- even though there was nothing ‘wrong’ before in reality. In these sunny days we can do more outdoor exploration, sit outside in the sun instead of staring at our screens or inside our four walls. I’m taking evening trips on my bike to the allotment to get some outdoor time once the little ones are in bed (not exactly sleeping), and I’ll miss that in the winter, but I can enjoy it to the full right now. Ice lollies in the freezer, ice cream stocked up and simple meals that we can sit on the grass and eat together, if we fancy it. Get soaked in the paddling pool and slide toy animals down bits of drainpipes.
So instead of doing what I always do, I’m remembering that this season is fleeting. I’m sitting outside in the sun and eating lunch, taking things outdoors to do instead of sitting inside because I’ve just spent about 9 months doing that and I’ve forgotten what sunshine is. Embracing the park trips and outdoors play and the pile of shoes as they are put on and off again as little feet go in and out- because later there will be a pile of coats again, and we can cuddle up inside again on that sofa. We’ve planted poppy seeds, we’re watching the bees buzz about and moving things around in the garden to make the most of that space. While we may not need to smoke meat to preserve all winter until hibernation is over, we make our own ways of preparing for each season and thriving through it- and summer is now.