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Seasonality



Image: The Harvesters (1565) – Pieter Bruegel


Away from the din of the newspapers, and the broadcast and social media, the spring is blossoming. The trees are growing fat with foliage, the birds are singing, the skies are clear. Families may walk along nature trails (it is still allowed during the lockdown), children are given home-schooling assignments to look for bugs. But are there richer ways to connect with the seasonality of things?


We could for example build up a whole almanac of signs that we might look out for that indicate the subtlest movements through 365 days of the year. Increase our sensitivity to these. But for what purpose? I realise that I have had a slightly under-developed attitude here. I go out during the day and I identify certain flowers or birds, I go out at night and I identify certain stars or constellations. But none of these are seasonal observations. I do not observe the date that these things were observed. It is similar to the way that we don’t eat foods in season any more, but expect access to all foods all the year round.


What does it mean for humans and indeed human projects such as building that we have seasonality? What would a greater sensitivity to seasonality gain us? My thought is that it is nature that contains us, but what is to stop us clearing a square of land with a chainsaw and building a house whenever we like? It is a richly beautiful process: the way the Earth’s tilt as it progresses around the Sun leads to changes in flora, fauna and the wider landscape in so many tiny details, but we seem strangely disconnected from it.


Perhaps it is reasonable to suggest that we escape a kind of mental prison of our own socialised blueprints, by realising a nature consciousness or an earth consciousness. It may also be another instance of experiencing time in a different way. And in fact this feels a little warmer. The seasons were in motion throughout the aeons before we were born – in Tudor times, in Roman Empire times, in Palaeolithic times, and aeons before that. The motion of the seasons is very, very old. We know it, I propose, on a cellular level. Perhaps just as importantly the seasons will be in motion in the aeons after we are dead. They represent a relative eternity – just as in the same way the sound of the waves rowing back and forth on Whitby beach sound the same now as they did in the times of Edward the Confessor.


Why does this matter? So What? I propose that there is something comforting in the knowledge – and I mean knowledge, as opposed to simply knowing in fact – that all life in its richness and newness with return and blossom when we are 80 years old as when we were eight years old. There will come a day when we slip out of that motion, but the motion goes on and on.

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​© 2020 by John Hills

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