Design for Life: Celebrate the Seasons

Get together with family and friends to celebrate the year's natural, seasonal cycles.

| May/June 2003

I started holding “Seasons Gatherings” a couple of years ago. It’s my enjoyable effort to bring a few lives into greater harmony with natural rhythms. Four times a year, I invite friends for a potluck with foods of the season; we all bring something that evokes our place on the year’s cycle.

Each time we gather, I’m delighted by the unpredictable mix of offerings. In the fall one friend brought rice hulls and talked about mulching his organic garden; another read a poem; one told tales of autumnal animal migrations; another brought a crimson leaf and talked about her favorite tree. In winter we shared more poems, candlelight, stories of hibernation, and a painting featuring a fire in a woodstove, a whistling teakettle, fluffy slippers, and a thick quilt. In spring we brought flowers, earthworms, straw hats, kites, and more poems and stories. In summer we rented a boat and spent an afternoon on a nearby lake, eating, drinking, skinny-dipping—being summer.

One regular attendee says the gatherings deepen and enrich her experience of the seasons. She loves the way each sharing inspires the next, how common threads emerge, and that we realize our lives are not really so isolated. She leaves feeling satisfied and calm, with a heightened awareness of her inner landscape, her senses, and her surroundings—be they warm and heady or cool and crunchy.

Whereas the early humans’ drive was to tame nature, our desire today is to reunite with it.

A primal need

Seasonal rituals have been celebrated since the dawn of humanity. When your life revolves around hunting and gathering what’s in season, or depends on planting in spring, tending the fruits of summer, harvesting in fall, and storing up for winter, you develop an intense relationship with these annual cycles. Ritualist L. Bachu believes that early rituals also grew out of a need to make the enormity of nature graspable. “Raw life is a huge event; nature’s power is beyond our comprehension,” she says. “Rituals allowed people to get their arms around it, interact with its cycles, and come to terms with its force.”

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