Posts tagged Realign
The Power of a New Season, and a Fresh Start

As we dive into the final months of this year, many of your thoughts will be turning to a new year, resolutions, and a new beginning. The New Year is a well-known time for us to plan a fresh start, but is it the most logical? Perhaps not, when we think to the seasons.

With this in mind, spring is the season that becomes our obvious choice for this fresh start, being so full of new life and signifying the re-awakening of nature from its wintry slumber. In the past I have always used this time to make my fresh start, and intentions for the year.

However, this year has been different. The last ten months flew by in a whirlwind with the completion of my degree and my clothing line beginning to take shape. I feel that, quite without realising it, I’ve stumbled past spring, summer and autumn without truly taking a moment to think about whether the path I’m running along is the right one.

Now, winter is beckoning to me and I look to it with delight. It is not demanding the big changes and to-do lists that a conventional fresh start may require, it simply suggests I stop, and take note. This is the season in which nature pauses, so shouldn’t we too? It does not rush to be something new and exhilarating after the boldness of autumn’s colours. Our grey skies are peaceful, the sun hanging low, and commanding no hurry within your day.

It is with this in mind, and a constant reminder through my window, that I begin anew as winter draws near. Questions I’ve been asking myself will now be answered, however long it takes, and my intentions for the coming year refreshed.

This is the season to think, to read, to write, and to slowly implement those little changes that will bring about your goals. But there is no hurry, no deadline. So pause, and breathe, feel the crispness of the air on your skin, and make that your fresh start this season.

Jessica Townsend creates slow and sustainable fashion at House of Flint. Follow her behind-the-scenes on Instagram here.

Nature & Culture: Finding a Common Ground
Celebrating trees and woods. Image courtesy of Common Ground.

Celebrating trees and woods. Image courtesy of Common Ground.

Nature and culture are often viewed as two distinct concepts. Nature is wild, it is 'out there' rather than 'in here', and sometimes it feels as though you have to make the choice to immerse yourself in the natural world. Yet it is a part of our culture, and of our everyday lives: it is the tiny green shoots emerging between the pavement cracks, the droplets of rain on the end of our nose, the crow perched on the tallest branch of the tree on the corner, creaking a sombre tune.

If we remind ourselves that nature is not just conservation and climate change, it can often be surprising how many opportunities we have to immerse ourselves in its restorative powers, allowing it to influence our lives and choices, and therefore our culture. The arts and environmental charity Common Ground aims to remind us of just that.

Projects both old and new mark a return to that 'age-old intertwining of human life and the natural world', and range from creating community orchards, to celebrating local customs, or 'distinctiveness'. Their intention is 'to connect people with their local environment through music, art exhibitions, film-making, publishing, community gatherings and education, creating the inspiration and some of the tools that can help communities make meaningful, long-lasting connections with their home ground.'

Rules for Local Distinctiveness. Image courtesy of Common Ground,

Rules for Local Distinctiveness. Image courtesy of Common Ground,

Reading this reminds me of all of the things Creative Countryside is aiming to achieve, and of the ethos that the magazine will adopt. So intertwined are our goals, that you can read all about one of the oldest Common Ground projects - Apple Day - in the first issue (September 2017). But as we transition into spring, perhaps one of the most pertinent and engaging resources from the organisation is last year's edition of LEAF! (the newspaper for trees, woods and people) which features green men, nest building and seasonal food, and can be downloaded from this page

Of course, there are many more projects you can get involved with, but if you're not quite ready for that yet, I'll leave you with a few ways that you can reconnect with nature and your local environment this season:

It's easier than you think to connect your life and culture to the natural world, so what are you waiting for?

Seasonal Creativity

Imagine this: you sit down at your kitchen table with the intention of writing an article, painting a picture, or trying out a new craft. You have a whole morning to yourself to be creative - whether for work, or pleasure - and the possibilities are endless. And that’s precisely the problem.

A blank page is a warning flashing in front of us: I’m not creative, how can I be when I’ve no idea where to start? But it’s not surprising that we struggle to create when our environment doesn’t provide any stimulus, or rather, it provides the same stimulus, day in day out.

So instead, try this: leave the paper, leave the paints, leave the house. Go for a walk and forget all about what you’re supposed to be doing back at the kitchen table; instead, immerse yourself in the natural world.

Bob down and crouch amongst the grass, the wheat field, the hedges - search beneath your feet for what we so often overlook. Yes, it’s green, but what kind of green? And is it really? Isn’t it actually more of a brown, or grey?

Unfurl your fingers and reach out for new sensations; the prickle of a hawthorn branch, the wet tendrils of grass still holding onto the early morning dew, the slightly sticky residue left by the garden snail.

Look up at the sky and see how it’s feeling today - is it angry, melancholy, full of hope?

Pluck a tiny flower from the patch at the end of your garden, and really look at its structure and all its separate parts.

No matter what, it is the rhythm of nature that we can depend upon. Change will come, and there will always be something new to discover. It might arrive in different ways, at unexpected times, or it might creep upon you unnoticed, but it is inevitable. So why not create with it?


Spring is the time of new life and of hope for the year ahead. Notice all the growth in your garden or on the trees that line the streets and try to capture this unfurling. Make note of when these changes are occurring and how quickly life evolves. At the equinox, turn your focus to the animal world and look for new life there as well.

Make sure to observe and think about the colour green and watch it build in vibrancy as the season progresses.


Summer is all about sensations: the warm rain that splatters your cheeks, the heat of late evening sunshine and the pungent smell of strawberries picked and eaten within moments. Try to capture these sensorial experiences.

Make sure to observe and think about the colour blue; the sky, the ocean, the flower beds, the unexpected flashes.


Autumn often hints at an appearance once or twice before it well and truly arrives. This cusp of seasonal change between late summer and early autumn is one of the most evocative times of the year.

Make sure to observe and think about the colour gold. It’s everywhere at this time of year: in that hour before sunset when the light glitters down on everything it touches; on the leaves that crisp and fall and cluster into corners; and on the skins of squashes ripe and ready for storage.


Winter is a time for celebration and looking in hidden places. Frost covers and shrivels the clustered leaves of autumn and the hedgerow berries, leaving just enough for the birds to peck at and forage.

Make sure to observe and think about the lack of colour. Whether it is the first snow of the season that mutes the patchwork fields, the hopeful snowdrops drooping out of their green pouches, or the vast winter skies, look beyond and consider that there is always a hint of green, or grey, beneath a cursory glance.

What is Seasonal Living?

If you looked out of the window now, I’m sure you’d see some indication of what season it currently is. Perhaps a cyclone of leaves is whirling its way down the street, shimmering gold, scarlet and ochre and rustling against the pavement? Or maybe your window’s already open and there’s a faint hum and the scent of freshly mown grass? Wherever you are in the world, whether nature’s year is drawing to a close or just beginning, change is always afoot, and while the animal and natural world adapt and evolve accordingly, as humans we often dismiss these transformations as irrelevant and unimportant.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

(Rachel Carson)

Seasonal living is all about recapturing this evolution, taking care to notice the delicate changes in our environment and adjusting the way we live in response. For me seasonal living is not just an ethos or an idea I return to every once in a while, but a way of life. When you live by the seasons, life is simple and seems to boast a deeper sense of purpose; if nature has existed in this way for thousands of years, then why shouldn’t we? Instead of resisting what we see as complications and inconveniences – the heavy snows in winter or the sticky heat of those few summer days, for example – it’s much less complex to simply embrace the weather and seasonal patterns we are presented with.

Implenting easy steps to create a seasonal life

If you’re on board with the concept, then implementing steps to create and live a more seasonal life is the easy part. Start slowly and adjust to the temperature and weather outside. Breathe in the air deeply and really take in your surroundings, noticing the sounds and smells of the season. Buy vegetables from your local farm and revel in the knowledge that you’re not only supporting local business, but you’re also eating fresh produce that hasn’t been shipped miles and miles just for you. When May arrives, eat all the asparagus you can manage for the month. In June, gorge on strawberries until you can take no more. Make the most of what’s growing in the fields around you or in backyards throughout the country and trust that nature knows what she’s doing when summer ends and so do the fresh tomatoes.

Ready for more?

Try seasonal activities and spend your time wisely. Once the nights start to draw out in the spring, take long evening walks and watch as the sun’s stretched fingers turn everything they touch a golden hue. Forget the oven and take the kitchen outside on those long, lingering, balmy summer nights. As the cusp of autumn arrives, start preparing for the months ahead by preserving summer surplus, foraging for berries and storing squashes. Finally, as winter encroaches, curl up and learn a new craft whilst indulging in hot drinks and hibernating under layers of blankets.

While seasonal living might seem like a chore to some, for me following the rhythm of nature feels like returning to an ancient and traditional cycle; it makes me feel calm and still and yet at the same time so voraciously full of life.