Thoughts On the Seasons Of Life
I love seasonal living. And like so many others, fall is my absolute favourite time of year. The weather cools down and so does the laundry list of chores and projects and obligations as the general busy-ness and chaos and sweaty, sticky, uncomfortable heat of summer subsides. I even like the rain that starts up again, because it offers an excuse to stay inside and cozy up with some hot chai and a good book.
Of course, fall is still busy with its own set of chores. We’re still preserving the harvest and prepping our garden beds for winter and gathering firewood and buttoning up all sorts of other projects that need to be finished before winter sets in. But in general, fall is the time of year when we start to slow down just a little bit and begin to really enjoy the fruits of our labour; The final products of months of blood, sweat and toil (and yes, sometime tears) that we put into our homes and gardens and lives in the spring and summer seasons so that we might be blessed with abundance come fall and winter.
Yes, I love seasonal living, and I love fall most of all. And I’m especially glad that seasons come and go each year and don’t last forever, because each one has its virtues as well as its drawbacks. I would never want to live in any one season too long.
And yet it seems, even though summer has come and gone this year and the cool, crisp days of fall are upon us, it seems that we are very much still in the summer of our lives right now.
Because just like each year has four seasons, so too does each lifetime.
I’ve thought a lot about this at various points in my life, and I’ve been thinking of it an awful lot lately. The past few years have been trying ones for us. To say we’ve been busy is a massive understatement. We rarely get a weekend as a family to just be. We’re either renovating or building or moving or birthing or coping with loss or moving relatives or going to work or pursuing higher education or starting businesses or tackling homesteading and gardening chores of all sorts… There’s rarely been time in our lives over the past few years to take a break to savour our accomplishments, (although I will say that we certainly make gratitude a priority every day).
At 35 and 31 years-old, respectively, my hubby Ryan and I are right, smack-dab in the busiest season of our lives, which I liken to summer. It’s the time when everything seems to be happening all at once with no end in sight. The to-do list seems to be never-ending, and there’s always so much going on in all corners of our lives that it can feel overwhelming and hard to keep up with it all. But then I remember that it is, indeed, only a season.
Sure the seasons of our lives last longer than the seasons in a year, but all things come to an end. I know we won’t be in the summer of our lives forever, and that certainly helps me to get through the hard days and to practice gratitude instead of wishing my life away. Still, summer is a hard season. It’s busy and chaotic and jam-packed with responsibilities and “things to do” before fall. And that’s where we are right now.
Still not sure quite what I’m talking about? Let me break it down season-by-season, starting, as most all life does, in the spring.
Spring is all about birth, growth and preparation. For our gardens it means sowing seeds and nurturing seedlings that will grow into big, healthy, nourishing plants as the year progresses and the seasons change. For humans (and other animals too) it means being born, learning to walk and talk and do many of the things that will serve us later on in life.
The spring of our life is all about learning and growing and becoming. Spring is never about products or results. Instead it’s about sowing the seeds that will one day blossom into all of the goodness of tomorrow. It’s about initiating the hard work of building a good life for ourselves, for much like gardening, if we begin this process too late in the season, we will be at quite the disadvantage later on in life.
Indeed, spring is hard work. But it is also forgiving. In the spring, time is on our side. There’s time to make mistakes and start over again. There’s time to play and learn and discover new things. There’s time to simply enjoy the process of growing up without all of the responsibility that comes with actually being grown up. Spring is hard work, but it’s not as busy as summer.
In the summer, things really ramp up. In the seasonal summer, life revolves around weeding and and watering and building projects and harvesting and gathering and preserving, as well as the busy-ness and chaos of all of the social commitments, weddings, special events and children home from school. Summer is fast-paced and jam-packed with activities and obligations, and while it can be loads of fun, it can also be stressful and overwhelming if we try to fit too much in.
Likewise is the summer of our lives. This is the time in life when we are busy establishing ourselves. Perhaps we’re getting married and having children and shaping our careers and buying homes and setting up homesteads and trying to build wealth while simultaneously haemorrhaging money trying to do all of the above. It’s exciting and fun but also stressful and overwhelming.
For many of us, “summer” means raising children of our own and nurturing them through the spring of their own lives as we try to fulfill all of the duties of our adult lives as well. It means responsibility and keeping up with all of life’s demands at once and feeling pulled in a million different directions. We may even find ourselves “praying for rain,” so to speak, so we can just get a break from the overwhelm.
Luckily, just as sure as the seasons change each year, so too do the seasons of our lives. They must, for no mortal being could ever keep up with the pace of an endless summer.
Summer is always sure to fade into fall, eventually. And when it does, we find often find ourselves breathing a sigh of relief as things begin to slow down.
The seasonal fall brings with it a feeling of gratitude and abundance as we give thanks for Earth’s bounty and enjoy the fruits of our summer’s labour. Sure, there is still work to be done harvesting and processing and preserving and preparing for winter. But the work of fall is the work of finishing projects, and comes with the satisfaction of checking things off our to-do list once and for all.
In the summer, there is always more to be done. In the fall, however, projects get finished and food gets stored away and most of our gardens begin the sleepy process of being put to bed for the winter.
In life, fall means much of the same. It’s the time in our lives when we really begin to reap what we sowed in the spring and worked tirelessly at growing in the summer.
Perhaps it’s the time in life when we feel our careers are well established at last and we start to enjoy the benefits of better pay or a better position at work or simply more money in the bank that we’ve sacrificed for years to save and invest. Maybe the fall of your life means seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to paying off your mortgage or finally seeing your dreams become reality, whether those dreams are of building your perfect business or homestead or family or life.
Fall is also often the season of life when our children are perhaps not fully grown, but grown enough that they are able to genuinely contribute to the household because you spent the necessary time teaching them the things they need to know to become independent, thoughtful human beings who understand the value of hard work and pulling their own weight.
And fall is also the time when we get to slow down and sip a cup of tea and simply just enjoy being. It’s cozy and comfortable and much less stressful than the summer. Sure, there is still much to be done, but we can make time for a walk in the woods on a crisp morning. Maybe even a little vacation?
Of course, after fall comes winter.
Seasonal winter is first time for celebration. It’s the ultimate time of joy and merriment and kicking off your boots to relax by the fire with a rum and eggnog at long last.
There’s some busy-ness at the start of winter for sure. The holiday season brings with it a time of social events and family gatherings, travel plans and dinner dates and parties and gift exchanges. It’s as if everyone is trying to cram as much fun and as many festivities as possible into the short time they have left before winter really socks in and we all turn in to hibernate through the rest of it. Because after the raucousness and gaiety of early winter comes the slow, reflective, quiet of late winter.
This latter part of winter is when we slow down, relax, reflect on the past year and make plans to do things differently next time around. It’s the time of year to prioritize ourselves for once, and to focus on our physical, emotional and spiritual growth and wellbeing. It’s a sleepy time of year when, on our own time anyway, we have total permission to sit back and do nothing at all should we so choose.
We’ve done the hard work in the spring, summer and fall. We’ve celebrated and lived life to the fullest in early winter. And now it’s time to wind down and bask in gentle enjoyment of our year’s worth of hard work before it starts all over again.
For in seasonal winter, there is always the promise of another spring; Of another year of seasons ahead. Not so, however, when it comes to the winter of our lives.
More On The Winter Of Our Lives
The early winter of our lives might look much like the early winter we experience annually, full of excitement and celebration and fun. Maybe it’s around this time in our lives that we find ourselves retiring, making more time for friends and festivities, travelling the world and seeing and doing all the things we’ve never had the time or money for in previous seasons of life. Indeed, this time in our lives can be just as busy as any holiday season as we rush to knock things off our bucket lists before we become proverbially “snowed in” for the rest of our days.
And then, just as one year turns to another and January sets in, we too begin to slow down in the late winter of our lives.
At this point, the most important work still to be done is on ourselves. It’s the time when we reflect not just on the year gone by, but on our entire life. Do we have regrets? Are there amends to be made? Did we live a life true to ourself and our beliefs? How can we grow most meaningfully in our remaining days? What would we do differently if we were promised one more spin around the sun? What lessons and legacies do we want to pass onto the next generation before our time is up?
What I Know For Sure
As I sit down for the third time to finish writing this, squeezing this passion of mine that I have for my little blog in where I can as I charge forward through the midsummer of my life, I am reminded that in life we only get to experience each season once.
For me, my spring has already come and gone. I’ll never get it back. And while I look forward to fall when a few weights might hopefully be lifted at last from our shoulders and we can finally begin to really take the time to enjoy the life we’ve created for ourselves, I wouldn’t trade the seemingly endless, busy summer of my life for anything. Because all of the chaos and overwhelm; The births and babies and kids and marriage and mortgages and projects and financial struggles and the fact that there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get it all done…
All of that only comes once in a lifetime. And for all we know, one lifetime is all we ever get.
So as we ease into fall here on our new little homestead-in-the-making, we have every reason to give thanks this season. For even though we are still very much in the summer of our lives with no seasonal change in sight, I know deep down that winter is coming, and fall will be here soon enough.
So enjoy whatever season of life you’re in, because it’s the only chance you’ll ever get to live it. Life ticks by whether we’re present and enjoying it or busy wishing it away.
Even if you’re struggling or suffering or simply stuck in a rut, find something to be grateful for in this moment of your life. In good times and in bad, always remember, “this too shall pass.” Just as sure as the seasons change each year.
What about you? What season of life are you in right now? How do you celebrate the season you’re in and practice being present where you are right now? Let me know down below.
Oh, and Happy Fall Y’all 🙂
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