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Monday, January 13, 2014

Living a Seasonal Life

Ice storm has taken the clothes line "off line" for several weeks.
It's January Thaw here in Maine this week! This typical seasonal phenomenon -- when our normal winter freezing to sub-zero temperatures give way to a week or so of well above freezing, often sunny days and nights that barely drop below 32 degrees, if they far that fall -- has been even more of a blessing this year. Even I, who loves winter, is appreciating Mother Nature's ice melt. It comes after a major ice storm which left at least a quarter of an inch of ice everywhere and much of it has remained on trees and plants much longer than they are comfortable with. In winter, though, those of us who live in the northern latitudes should expect ... and be prepared for... cold and snow.

I hear many, many people, however, who almost from the beginning of the season complain. Mostly, though, they don't say "I'm cold." or "Walking on the ice sucks." or even "I am planning to move/retire to (insert name of southern latitude location) and will be very glad when the time comes that I can get there." No, instead they say "I hate winter." Really, folks.. it is a season, it happens EVERYWHERE. Get over it.

Then it occurred to me to wonder, since as one of my co-workers often says, one should "default to the stupid", if they even realize there ARE options! I know I have lived a LOT more places, and in more states/climates/environments than most folks would even consider. And I read, and am interested in science, weather, etc. So, perhaps, the winter-haters do not understand the nuances of weather. Perhaps, while I would expect everyone in the US to know that snow in Florida, Texas, Los Angeles, etc is uncommon enough to make the news if it should happen, perhaps the extent of a southern climate that might be more to their liking has escaped the notice of often geographically challenged minds. Perhaps,if it is the long nights that plague them, they do not realize that while the extremes of change in length of day/night from summer to winter are a northern phenomenon, the opposite is true the closer you get to the equator. In southern latitudes. The June day length in Miami is 14.25 hours; in Maine it is a bit over  15.5 In winter, Miami shrinks to 10.5 and in Bangor ME, 8.75. That makes the difference in our northern latitude 7 hours as opposed to Miami's 3.75, a BIG difference.

Yes, I know jobs are hard to find, moving costs money etc. But I also know that, after many years of living in the unhospitable-to-me southern latitude climate, being unable to adapt and increasingly less happy, I began making plans to MOVE. I had no idea WHEN this would happen, only that it needed to and as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I hopped aboard.

I followed this rant because in my mind being in a climate that suits one is as important as having a tolerable job and someone with whom to share ones life. And I believe it is essential to living a satisfying seasonal life.

"Seasonal life"? What is that?  Well, for me it has grown out of my spiritual connection to nature and the earth; for others it may well spring from the discovery of seasonal eating. It means consciously committing to such things as eating in season, dressing in season, and engaging in seasonal activities. It means, for me, working long days in the summer and relishing the longer winters sleeps (which I am looking forward to as soon as I retire!) which are currently luxuries reserved for days off my town job. It means seed catalogues in January, several months of seedlings in racks and potting soil on the floor in the kitchen; it means long johns and flannel night gowns and bed sheets in winter and lightweight shifts and cool percale sheets in summer with a window fan to stir the air. It means layering, indoors and out, in winter and short sleeve shirts sent to boxes in the garage come October, not to be seen again until May.

And on a shorter scale, it means taking advantage of the past two days of excellent "drying weather" and the ice having melted from the clotheline in the opening picture, thanks to the January Thaw, to wash bed linens and hang on the line, along with big loads of towels and clothing; the luxury of  "getting it all done" rather than the inclement weather drill of small loads dried on racks in the house.

It means meals from canned and frozen veggies "put by" in the heat of summer and hearty storage crops: potatoes, onions, winter squash, beets, carrots. It means more meat on the table and this year, a return to weekly baking of bread.

And, at the moment, it also means that my brain has shut down, as it's several hours past dark and my inner bear says "you should be hibernating."