I was reading Michael Pollan’s great new book In Defense of Food yesterday when I came across this: “Eating in season also tends to diversify your diet - because you can’t buy strawberries or broccoli or potatoes twelve months of the year, you’ll find yourself experimenting with other foods...”
That got me thinking... how about living in season? By that, I mean choosing things that we do and how we do them according to the seasons, rather than trying to force everything to be 72 degree, 30% humidity, perfectly lit perfection all the time?
Think of how many of the rituals of human culture originally derived from the rites of the seasons, and from simple delights gleaned from the time of year. Snuggling in front of a crackling fire late into a clear and brittle night in the dead of winter, or do you remember the sleeping porch with fireflies silently patrolling outside the screen in early June, when it’s just a bit too warm to sleep inside? Or how about going for a quick dip late on a dusty August afternoon? Or maybe letting the dog sleep at your feet on a night that the Hunter’s Moon has brought an unseasonable chill? And whatever happened to Spring Cleaning?
We did all of these things when the seasons mattered, and when each day could be new, bringing something just a bit different from the one before it. But not now. We can no longer tolerate uncertainty, it seems, even as the world around us grows radically uncertain. Is it possible that we have built this Great Grey Way of everyday life to somehow insulate ourselves from the globally cataclysmic stuff we read about, see, and hear? I really don’t know.
But what I do know is that our intolerance of days too warm, too cold, too wet, too dry, too bright, or too dark has robbed us of the seasons, and of both the struggles and celebrations they once contained.
Here’s another thing... not only has our environmental intolerance stolen the delight of the seasons, but it may, perversely, have done something far more malicious. Consider this: the hidden cost of the Great Grey Way is the fact that it requires us to mechanically condition our personal cocoons almost all of the time. So we seal the windows, lower the shades, and power up. And so the machines run... and run... and run...
No big deal, right? Just pay the utility bill and everything is OK. Or is it? It turns out that the Great Grey Way is, above all other things, an energy hog. And the hogging of energy is the prime culprit in wars, depletions, exploitations, global climate change, and most of the other things we seem to be trying to insulate ourselves from when we create the Great Grey Way!
Somehow, this cycle must be broken. Sustainability requires it. And the delight of the seasons is still waiting on the other side.
~ Steve Mouzon
Friday, June 5, 2009 - 11:49 AM
I hear, get it and agree! God planned this world perfectly and but we have not been the best stewards. Most of my life has been in the "thermostat age" but fortunately I remember my grandparents generation and how they were use to being frugal and embracing the seasons in the fullest measure. My grandmother and grandfather always raised a huge garden and my grandmother would fill the cupboards with food she preserved for the winter. She had no concept of expecting it to be brought to her from thousands of miles away! She also knew what she could raise in the fall and winter to eat on. It was all about surviving where you lived. I think we have a generation now that has no perspective of this. It is a tragedy! Thanks for bringing these realizations to the forefront, Steve!
Friday, June 5, 2009 - 12:00 PM
Well said. Our homes are all on lifesupport. What happens when the plug gets pulled!
Friday, June 5, 2009 - 12:54 PM
great post! i've read in defense of food, and i recommend 100 mile diet, some people get stuck on the '100 mile' and miss the point, it echoes your 'living in season'. we've lost so much by having everything all the time, some people just want what they want when they want it with no care about the impact of those decisions.
Saturday, June 6, 2009 - 12:31 AM
THANKS STEVE, Your post here just gets our minds churning of things we should be doing and should not be doing . . . Your continued efforts and others like you will help move the churning and the shoulds to could, can, did and done! Keep beating the drum!
Monday, July 20, 2009 - 03:06 PM
I remember summers at my grandparents house in Canton Ohio back in the 1950's. Instead of air conditioning and television, we had large porches, large shade trees and card games. Summer meant popsicles and card games on the porch. Bought a canvas awning last year for my large picture window behind the deck and my air conditioner has not come on for the first summer since I moved here 17 years ago. Next best thing to a porch. Yesterday I made my first popsicle in decades (details on my facebook page). Her house was built by her father -in -law (a contractore) at the begining of the 20th century. No living room but a large dinning room and a small parlor and den. Fit their life style perfectly.
Grandma's house had mudrooms front and back to keep the cold winter air from coming in the door. Her high hedges blocked the wind.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - 10:39 AM
This is exactly what Living In Season means... thanks for your story! And if you're back here, please leave a link to your facebook page
Saturday, September 19, 2009 - 10:09 PM
We moved to Florida several years ago, I miss the seasonal changes living here. I envy cuddles by the fireside! the autumnal leaf changes... etc.. I enjoyed your post thanks for sharing!
Monday, September 21, 2009 - 05:38 AM
Thanks, Butterfly! We did the same... moved to Miami several years ago, and I have a similar experience. The seasons are much more subtle here: hot and rainy, and not so hot!
Friday, January 22, 2010 - 01:35 PM
I often point out to students the insanity of heating our homes to 72 degrees F in the winter, but then insisting on air conditioning them down to 65 degrees F in the summer. Think of the energy we'd save simply by switching those two numbers (and not wearing T-shirts in the house during the wintertime)! But I prefer to feel the summer heat (what's summer without heat?) and I feel virtuous when I feel the winter cold (we wear big, cozy housecoats indoors and space heat for short periods, when necessary - plus, let's bring back the hot water bottle at night).
Something else to point out: I am far healthier (fewer colds and flu, for example) when my house is cool in the winter and warm in the summer, instead of the other way round. I'll bet it would be the same for others.
Pender Island, BC, Canada (with not-very-cold winters)
I'll bet getting our exercise outdoors all year round can go a long way in helping us acclimate!
Hey, Steve, I go back to this piece about once a year. Have you written any updates? Or is there a photo journal in any one place on your current garden rooms? Thanks!