The crisp crunch of leaves in the early rays of dawn, the rise of a brown trout as it’s dorsal fin crests the water, the infectious laughter of children as they careen down the sledding hill and the explosion of flavor from a cherry tomato popped into the mouth while tending the Summer garden.
Seasons come and go, and return once again in the dance of life. “For everything there is a season…” as King Solomon once said.
While in the big picture, seasons of life refers to being a child, raising children and finally meeting ones Maker; I would like to speak about living seasonally within the context of a rotation of life throughout a year. I share this with you as a concept of the good life, not as a template for you to necessarily follow – rather as a principle for you to interpret in the context of your own life.
My rotation starts on April 1st, April Fools Day, as I stand in a near-freezing WNY stream trying to trick a trout or two. The afternoon is then given over to starting seeds for the coming year’s vegetable garden. This inauguration of Spring begins the season of Fishing/Gardening, which will then dominate my “leisure time” throughout the coming months until October rolls around.
As September draws to a close, the season of Harvesting/Hunting begins. The garden is preserved through freezing, dehydrating and root cellaring. My beard begins to grow from a goatee to a full beard fit for bowhunting. My leisure time is consumed by walking through the woods and climbing trees. As the temperature drops below freezing, we slaughter and butcher a steer, a hog and whatever deer I was able to harvest. By Christmas, our 3 deep freezers, pantry and root cellar is full to bursting (we raise about 30% of our fruits/vegetables and butcher about 90% of our own meat). There is a wonderful sense of contentment that comes from having plenty from the works of our own hands…and a sense of the sacred act of eating and sharing a meal with friends.
As Winter locks us in, my heated woodshop becomes my place of creativity and respite. Planes get sharpened, shavings are made and furniture is the by-product. This past year, cutting boards, tea shelf, a canoe and a cherry homework table were on the list. As the snow piles up outside, I listen to jazz, drink coffee and pile up sawdust. Nothing is wasted: off-cuts become kindling for the wood fire, plane shavings become tinder for same and sawdust gets layered with kitchen scraps in 5-gallon buckets in the corner of the shop for next year’s garden.
Each year I cut a better dovetail, grow a better garden and walk more silently through the woods. The balance of the familiar and constant change, of inside and out of doors, of growing and harvesting and of constant purpose for my “leisure time” brings joy, balance, health and a sense of constant discovery.
Is it easier to live life vicariously? Where money is the only thing you make, spend and save? Where your free time is consumed on a couch with a bag of chips?
Each day would be easier, but life itself would be far more difficult. The meaninglessness of being bored while being constantly entertained is a much more trying life to live. The tug of a trout, the thrill of the hunt, the taste of truly fresh food and daily using furniture I have made myself is a far more fulfilling life!