“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” – Henry David Thoreau
There is a reason I sleep in one particular bedroom throughout the warm-weather months. The bed in that room is level with two old side-by-side oversized windows that take up most of one wall, and it is so near their threshold as to be almost touching them. With the windows wide open, it’s rather like sleeping outdoors. Stars are visible from my pillow. Trees and night creatures rustle and whisper small secrets. Old roses lean against the screens. The night itself literally breathes across me, scented with lavender plants and damp moss.
I have been purposely and purposefully living primarily with open-wide widows instead of air conditioning – although I do use overhead fans with abandon in every room. I think I started to do this in an effort to live more “green” as well as more cost-efficiently. But what I discovered was the hidden joy of living in season. Not just with the seasons … but in them.
I find this experience most delightful when actively engaged in nature. And especially in high summer, when the earth speaks to us most authentically and wondrously. Gardening. Woods walking. Bug watching. Bird listening. Storm bathing. Pond floating. Bare footing. Moon gazing. Breathing with trees and sleeping with stars.
Admittedly, I enjoy sleeping in an unheated open-air bedroom in winter as well. Under piles of blankets and warm cats (in a different, cubbyhole-shaped bedroom that catches the afternoon sun). Living in season with winter seems to be when walking in nature stimulates creativity along with body warmth – a time when ideas and energy are in sync with one another. It’s a time of stark and stunning experience and awareness. Trees hold their breath, foxes scream, horses put on long coats.
Fall is about planting bulbs for the future and taking care of the vulnerable things among us, tucking in all the corners. While spring is for shaking things out again and sweeping the porch for company. Not just in reality, but in mind and spirit.
People who know about such things tell us we should eat seasonally. And I suspect we are meant to take nourishment from each season in other ways as well. In the center of August, there seems to be a unique sense of stillness – even in the midst of a whole season of waned energy. So perhaps we, too, are meant to be still now. Yet out of this stillness, the days are beginning to call for earlier evenings and later sunrises; hoarse-voiced cicadas have started to call for the nearing of frost; summer squash and tomatoes, corn and cucumbers, beans and okra, and thump-ready melons are all calling for harvest. So perhaps we are meant to be still but also listening.
All of the seasons, with all of their familiarity and changes, their differing voices and often unexpected revelations, ground us and comfort us somehow. They make us more in tune with the earth – and perhaps with each other as we share the experience of them. But I suspect that if we learned to genuinely live in each season, we might come to value them more, with more gratitude, more humility, more awe, more joy. And by so valuing, perhaps we would take better care of them.
Perhaps we could begin by just sleeping with the windows wide open. Sleeping in season with summer while it passes. Resting under the influence of the earth.