The days are so long, but the years are so short: Doesn’t it seem like you look up one day and realize how much time has gone by? And you wonder, did I waste it all on things that at the end of the day weren’t so important, like the laundry, the dishes, etc.? One way to make sure the world isn’t passing you by is to connect with the rhythms of the seasons. Seasonal living can help you feel more grounded and connected to the world around you, which is an important lesson to teach our children as well. Because children that are connected to the natural world will feel compelled to protect and nurture it as adults.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commissions at no extra cost to you.
5 Tips for Seasonal Living
1. Connect with Nature
This is an obvious tip but one that we often skip as we rush through our days. So many times I’m focused on the chores I need to complete that I don’t look up to appreciate the changing colors of the trees or the way the light hits the clouds just so at sundown. Luckily my children have not lost this sense of wonder at nature and frequently remind me to slow down and look at all the little crawling bugs and funny shaped clouds. When you are connected with nature, you are more in tune with the subtle changes as one season turns into another. It can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or spending an afternoon at the park. Pick some wildflowers and display them in a pretty vase so you can bring the outdoors back home with you as a reminder of what matters.
2. Study the Natural World
Seasonal living means not just playing in nature but really learning from it. Our home school adviser got us started on nature journals – they are such a great way for kids (and adults!) to really pay attention to what they see around them. By training ourselves to really see what is in front of us, we notice details we normally miss and appreciate the long-term changes we may miss in our day to day observations. Pick a favorite tree or spot in your yard or local park, and have your child draw it every few weeks. It is so fun to look back and see how much it changes over time! You could also track how the constellations move across the sky with the seasons or how animals’ coats transform with the changing weather. Anything to get them to attend to the rhythms of the seasons – follow their interests and build on them!
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3. Support Your Local Farmer’s Market
There are few better places to discover seasonal living than the local farmer’s market. Most supermarkets import so much of their food that it can be hard to tell what’s really in season in your own part of the world. Farmer’s markets (and CSAs) are wonderful ways to explore local crops when they are at their peak. Make it into an adventure with your kids to see what is available at the farmer’s market that week. It could be a family challenge to try something new that has just arrived – a great way to introduce spontaneity into your weekly menu planning! Get ideas from the farmers themselves: Ask them about their favorite way to prepare the produce they are selling!
4. Plant a Garden
Planting a garden is another key factor to seasonal living. Besides teaching children the rewards of patience and hard work, a garden demonstrates in a very hands on way how the natural world has its own rhythms, as plants sprout then blossom and give fruit. Tuning into that gentle pace can be calming for children and adults alike, as we align our own expectations to this slower rhythm. If you don’t have outdoor space for a garden, you can create planters on your balcony or even grow herbs or small plants indoors. Many areas also have community gardens, where you can rent a plot for a small fee. This is a great way to meet like-minded neighbors as you tend your plants!
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5. Cook with Seasonal Ingredients
And of course, with all that great produce from the farmer’s market and your own garden, you will bring seasonal living into your kitchen as you stretch yourself to prepare foods in new ways that highlight the flavors of the season. Living in harmony with natural rhythms helps keep you from getting into a rut, plus it ensures that you are enjoying produce when it is at its most flavorful!
That is why I’m so excited about the wonderful new cookbook Farm to Table Asian Secrets: Vegan & Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season from Tuttle Publishing. It makes seasonal living so easy! The book is divided into sections by season, with recipes that feature the flavors that are available that time of year. I also love that it simplifies many traditional recipes to make them accessible to modern cooks – without sacrificing any of the flavor. Author Patricia Tanumihardja draws on her experiences in several different food cultures to blend traditions to make fresh, appetizing dishes, all using ingredients and equipment that you already have or can easily find.
One example is the Asparagus in Lemongrass-Coconut Cream Sauce. I have to admit I had never even cooked asparagus before, much less attempted a lemongrass-coconut cream sauce. But the steps in the recipe were so straightforward that even a newbie like myself was able to make a wonderful tasting dish in the brief period of time that all three of my kids were cheerfully occupied! I honestly felt like I was serving a dish right out of a restaurant!
I highly recommend Farm to Table Asian Secrets: Vegan & Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season to anyone who loves to experiment in the kitchen but worries that they just don’t have the time. Even meat lovers will enjoy these hearty, flavorful vegan and vegetarian dishes and the variety that they will introduce into your meal times.
How do you introduce seasonal living to your children?