Sunday, September 16, 2007

Part One - The Beginner's Guide to Living the Good Life

I used to have a little design business called Seasonality. Most people who saw my signs, thought I chose that name because I specialized in four-season garden designs. Actually, I chose that name years ago, before I even knew what kind of business I was going to start.

As I mentioned in the introduction, once upon a time, I had an epiphany - an honest to goodness, gen-u-ine, life-altering original idea. I was standing in front of my bookshelf, staring at all my favorite books about people who were living the good life - books like 'Under the Tuscan Sun' by Frances Mayes, 'Simple Abundance' by Sarah ban Breathnach, 'Joie de Vivre' by Robert Arbor, and of course, the one that started it all, 'The Good Life' by Helen and Scott Nearing. I was thinking about what I had learned from them. For instance, Sarah taught me that by bringing the seasons indoors to decorate my home, I would rarely grow tired of where I lived. Elliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch, of 'Gardening Naturally' fame, told me that, just as it's easier to write sonnet than free verse, it's easier to cook well with seasonal limitations, for they are a spur to creativity. Ferenc Mate, in his book 'A Reasonable Life', told me that if we ate only what is grown within a thousand miles of our bloody little houses, we might have the great pleasure you get from expectation and waiting, that special joy you feel on Christmas morning. Anna Quindlen, in a warning to those of us who were trying to be superwoman, said yes, "you probably can have it all, just not all at the same time". Eventually I came to the same conclusion that was written in Ecclesiastes thousands of years ago - "There is a time for everything, And a season for every activity under heaven."

Seasonality. I couldn't find that word listed in my old Webster's New Collegiate, buy I thought it sounded like a good way to describe living one's life in rhythm with the seasons. You may well be saying to yourself "That's fine and good for those of you who live in Ohio, or somewhere that actually has seasons, but what about those of us who are stuck down here in Texas?" Well, that is where you need it the most - it's the best cure there is for monotony! When our children were in elementary school, we were transferred to the boonies of Indonesia. The temperature there never varies by more than ten or fifteen degrees. You have two seasons, basically. You have rainy season, and then you have not so rainy. However, if you were to consult my kids, we had the best seasonal theme parties, the best fall carnivals, the best Christmas pageants, the best Easter egg hunts, and the best crawfish boils ever, and nothing since has come close to comparing. Why, we even celebrated Canadian Trapper's Day, complete with log-rolling in the swimming pool, and human dog sled races! And how did we accomplish all this with no craft stores, no home improvement stores, and no mega box stores? We got creative, that's how, and we worked together as a community. Basically, we threw ourselves into making our own seasons, and our own entertainment, because it kept us from going insane from the boredom and repetitiveness of our lives there. And face it people, no matter how much you love your family, being a homemaker can be very boring and repetitive. You know what? The kids were right. Those were the best times ever.

So, how do you incorporate seasonality into your own life? Just keep reading!

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