Living life by the seasons isn't something I've always appreciated. Despite the fact my parents have always lived in a similar way, as a teenager and even into my very early twenties it wasn't top of my agenda; I was distracted by the dreams and desires of others. Although this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, I neglected to consider what I really deemed important in life and what made me truly happy. I will readily admit that I'm not a positive person every minute of every day; I fall into spells of blue moods, get riled up when things don't quite go to plan and snap at others if I'm tired. But no one is perfect. Choosing to live a seasonal life has without a doubt improved my health, my mood, my relationships and my happiness.
There isn't a one-formula-fits-all for living seasonally, but there are certain principles which weave their way through the lifestyle. Eating what's currently being picked on English soil is one. Not only is the taste superior but your bank balance will thank you throughout the year, especially if you shop locally as well.
Another is to understand and appreciate what makes each season so different, and revel in it. Spring brings new life, a freshness that is missing from the other seasons, and the chance to breathe into the year. The sky is often crisp and light and it is the perfect time of year to sow seeds, plant ideas in preparation for later in the year. Spring is also about faith: faith that the seedlings will turn into magnificent flowers and succulent produce; faith that the ideas you plan for today will succeed tomorrow; and faith that after a deep, dark period of the year there is hope of fresh, new life at the end of it.
Summer is the season of hard toil, long days, and feeling the heat of the sun on your skin. It's also about long evening walks and stargazing without a jumper, a glass of something sweet in hand and the warmth of the day still tingling on your cheeks. Summer is a time to relish the green of the English landscape - whether hiking up a mountain or meandering through a meadow surrounded by the hum of bees, the colour seeps into all the eye surveys.
Then, quite suddenly, things turn. Autumn creeps upon us and turns the leaves crimson and brown, turns the garden into a patchwork quilt and nips the hairs on the back of our necks in a morning. Haystacks litter the horizon, glinting as the late afternoon sun slowly seeps away. It's a time to preserve both our memories of summer and the berries in the hedgerows, and to take stock and prepare for the final stretch of the year.
The winter months are spent squirrelled away, taking solace from the elements in front of a roaring fire. The air is cold, menacing even, but the wind and snow form an impressive backdrop to cheerful carols and celebrations with friends and family. It's the time of year to open a few books and be creative, to return from a long frosty walk to a hot cinnamon tea and admire the persistence of nature through the cruellest of weathers.
I honestly could not imagine living anywhere that did not ebb and flow with the seasons. My house looks different in every one; I look different too. Until returning to live in the countryside I didn't fully understand how much life can be led by these changes, but letting nature dictate certain parts of your life has a strong sense of primitive purpose. The outside world has, and always will, alter with the year, so why shouldn't we?
Eleanor is obsessed with stories. She writes for a number of online spaces including This is Your Kingdom, edits Creative Countryside, curates #aseasonalyear and teaches at Chalk House. In addition, she is currently studying for an MA in Creative Non-Fiction Writing. You'll find her roving the fields of the Lincolnshire Wolds or planning her next rural adventure.