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10 January 2014

Hungering for connection

Why honouring seasonal rhythms still matters

It doesnʼt seem like that long ago, I was sitting on the 7th floor of a downtown office building – gazing out the window at the big, blue prairie sky and the brilliant sunshine, and thinking, “What am I doing inside, when it looks like that outside!?”

Not only was it a stunningly, beautiful Manitoba summer day, but I was *freezing*. My teeth were chattering and my hands were cold.

The ʻclimate controlledʼ building meant I was wearing the same cardigan in the summer …as I had been wearing most of the dreadfully frigid winter.

It was no wonder that I felt completely…disconnected.

Recognizing how unnatural my day-to-day existence had become was part of what propelled me to trade in a pinstripe suit for galoshes and gardening. To make the move from city to country. And to start the journey back from deskilled- to reskilled.

Out on the land today, I wonder how so many people are able to bear it for so long. Unfortunately, many people canʼt quite define where their stress is coming from. Itʼs just always there, as a low (maybe high) grade anxiety.

Many years ago I had a co-worker come and tell me that he had to go to the hospital for having an anxiety attack, “for no reason.”

But was it really no reason?

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Although itʼs a relatively new label, Nature Deficit Disorder is defined by a lack of connection to nature.

 

Its ʻsymptomsʼ are said to include:

• increased feelings of stress

• trouble paying attention

• feelings of not being rooted in the world

 

Is it really that far-fetched that this disconnect is causing mental and physical illness?

As humans, we are still hardwired to pay attention to the seasons and the weather…That primal part of us that signals, ʻit is time to be outside. It is time to hunt and gather. To frolic. To turn our faces to the sun.ʼ Despite the modern conveniences of air conditioning, lights, ipads and *year-round* strawberries….that part of us lives on.

Like, a child tugging at the pant leg. Asking you to *listen*…

 

Hardwired to connect

It wasnʼt long ago, that the human animal lived just as closely to Mother Earth as the other living beings that populate our planet.

And Mother Nature dictated what we did *and when* we did it.

Day-to-day and season-to-season…People rose with the sun, and wound down when darkness fell.

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There was no electricity to power lights, television and computers to keep us working and browsing, long after our natural biorhythms had told us it was time to rest and restore with a good nightʼs sleep…

Our inclination to live in sync with the seasons is apparent throughout history and in our connection to the food we are designed to eat…

Many people have heard of the ʻHarvest Moonʼ- a moniker stemming from the Old Farmersʼ Almanac. But each of the moonʼs 13 annual cycles had names as well. And while they varied around the world, they most often described the food or living situation that dominated that period of time.

 

snowy pumpkin

 

For example:

Corn Moon: fell on the cusp of summer and fall when corn stood tall in the fields (Celts

and many Native American cultures)

 

Moon When Salmon Return to The Earth: This name is attributed to the Saanich (or

Wsanec people) who actually had several names for the period when specific salmon

(such as Coho) returned.

 

Blood Moon or Hunterʼs Moon: This name has its roots with indigenous people of the

Eastern Woodlands and falls mid-autumn, when the air is growing colder and the

northern dwellers would work to ensure their store of meat would last the winter.

 

Snow Moon: Is from sixteenth century England. This is when autumn is becoming

winter. The first snowfall could be expected at any time. Waterways and reservoirs

start to freeze. Could be the last opportunity to preserve food

 

Moon of Long Nights: This is the time when winter solstice approaches. In some

regions, dawn and dusk occur at almost the same time. A time of darkness.

 

Hunger Moon: Coincides with the late winter lunar cycle and is named such because,

as you might have guessed, food was often in scarce supply…

 

Sap Moon: A name with Ojibway roots. “Although snow and ice still cover the ground,

the promise of spring stirs the land. Sap begins to rise up through tree trunks…”

 

Source: Full Moon Feast, Jessica Prentice

 

Reconnecting- one mouthful at a time…

Working on our relationship to food, can help us recover our relationship to nature. Just *try* to plant a garden, for example, and not notice just a *few* more details about the nuances of each season. Tender shoots, rapid growth, flowering and fruiting. Decay and dormancy.

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Old sayings like, “make hay while the sun shines” take on added meaning. The fairly narrow window for each fruit, vegetable and herb that needs to be picked and processed, comes in rapid succession. Wild mushrooms. Berries. Peas. Stinging nettle. Spinach. Beans. Corn. Rosehips….

Enjoyed at their peak deliciousness. Juicy strawberries picked and eaten from the plant. Sweet peas shelled by tiny hands. And carrots so tasty they simply cannot be compared to supermarket fare…

And while there is often a sense of urgency that comes with a lifestyle more in sync with the seasons (for example during periods of planting, growth and harvest)- there is also a sense of groundedness and connection.

Again, the prose of Jessica Prentice comes to mind…

“…eating winter produce in winter helps me reconnect with the Earthʼs rhythms and with the seasonal reality of my forebears. It reminds me that to everything there is a season and time. It helps me let go of my desire to have whatever I want, whenever I want it, instantly. It helps me appreciate that what I have been given and to accept it gratefully.”

As part of a new wave of ʻmodern homesteadersʼ we have come to realize that attention to, and attunement with, seasonal rhythms could mean the difference between a great harvest (and a poor one), working in the flow (or against it), and even life and death. It can dictate how and when we connect with others and, as I teach in my classes, the difference between good or- poor health.

 

Homesteading observation

I have often wondered what unnatural lighting does to *human* biorhythms and hormones. Especially after observing how the ʻsimpleʼ act of turning a light on in a chicken coop can propel hens to lay eggs throughout the winter- a time when, left to their own devices, they would be dormant- saving their baby-making energy for spring- a time of natural fertility.

breakfast post eggs

In the book, “Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival”, Anthropologist T.S. Wiley muses that artificial lighting responsible for the rise in degenerative diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

The reason, she says, is that when we stay up after the sun goes down (using artificial lights, watching tv and and using computers), we disrupt our natural hormone function and push our bodies into a state of ʻperpetual summerʼ. This, she says, is at the root of our sugar and carbohydrate cravings because those nutrients were primarily available to hunter-gatherers during the summer.

So improving your health could be as simple to making a commitment to turn off the computer (and turn out the lights)…

 

Seasonal eating and health

It is likely, that, more often than you think, your body gives you signals that it is *still* in tune with our ancestral food wisdom…

For example, I find that I can hardly bear to eat a salad in the middle of the winter. But give me a bowl of hearty, piping hot soup or a root vegetable stew and I am content.

Come spring, I am eager to eat sprouts and shoots.

In the summer, it seems easy to skip right over lunch in the heat of the day (or to keep it very light). Supper could be as simple as a plate of fresh vegetables, steamed beets, cheese and sourdough bread.

By eschewing farmersʼ markets for supermarkets, and slow food for convenience food, many people have lost their ability to heal through intuitive and seasonal eating. But that can be reclaimed – whether you live on a homestead or in a condo.

Take the time to learn what is in season. And maybe even to grow something yourself. Preserve one thing this year, whether that is by freezing, fermenting, canning or drying it.

Take a walk in nature, Plant a garden, Turn off the lights. Take part in a seasonal (not commercial) celebration.

And disconnect from your screen time to connect again with life…

 

*This article was originally printed in the fall edition of Interlake Arts, Life and Leisure Magazine….

 

 

Filed under:BlogNourished HomeTraditional Wisdom Modern Kitchen
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13 comments
  • Bettina Goodwin

    Great information and I believe so true. I think we all feel that pull back to nature – sometimes, though, we ignore it. I’m certainly going to pay more attention to it. We live in the city but we utilize our whole back yard for gardening produce. And we love it!

    11 January, 2014 09:12 || Reply

    1. Adrienne Percy

      That is amazing Bettina! I believe you can reconnect from anywhere! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

      11 January, 2014 11:09 || Reply

    2. Cheyenne

      You mean I don’t have to pay for expert advice like this anymroe?!

      30 August, 2014 23:23 || Reply

    3. Joseph

      For me this is a relatively easy qusotien, but has a pretty complex answer. The specialty I have actually looked forward to working with is OB/GYN. I find that the ability of a woman’s body to produce a child, endure the amount of abuse it takes during a pregnancy, and the amount of pain endured during delivery is amazing. The joy of being able to be present as life enters the world is truly one of the greatest moments in life. To me that would be the best possible option. I also would love working in the operating room with a surgeon. I have experienced the OR quite a few times, and have been on both sides of the table. I have to say I would love to work with any surgeon in the OR except for Orthopedics. The reason behind that is the surgery’s are pretty brutal when it comes to the skeletal system. Having been in the OR with an Orthopedic surgeon and seeing the use of the saws, hammers and other heavy equipment in order to perform the surgery just sends chills up my spine. I know that type of surgery is not for me. I think my favorite surgeries have to be that of the abdominal cavity. The specialties that I would least like to work for are few, and for simple reasons. Pediatrics is not a specialty for me since I have four children of my own. My Aunt is a neonatal nurse practitioner and I followed her in high school and saw the good, the bad, and the ugly so I can honestly say I could not emotionally handle that type of position. Podiatry is also an area I could not see myself working. The reason behind this is pretty silly, but here goes, I very much dislike other peoples feet especially if they are not well kept. I know in the medical field you will encounter feet on a daily basis, but I could not mainly work with feet on an everyday basis. My last specialty is Orthopedics for the reasons I noted above about the barbaric nature of the surgeries and treatments for the musculoskeletal system. Its just not for me.

      03 September, 2014 13:02 || Reply

    4. Eldora

      That’s an ineonigus way of thinking about it.

      06 May, 2016 13:59 || Reply

  • Marianne

    Thanks for the great resource you provide! I made the decision to leave my “day job” last week to concentrate on my health and providing “real food” for my family. I just found your site and look forward to following along.

    04 April, 2014 08:52 || Reply

    1. Adrienne

      Oh Marianne! I am so happy to hear you are following that ‘little voice’. Best regards and please keep in touch! How did you find us btw?

      06 April, 2014 21:28 || Reply

      1. Marianne

        I am very interested in traditional foods and found your great site through an online search. So glad I did!

        24 April, 2014 08:44 || Reply

        1. Gabriela

          Here is another very imnprtaot piece of information about sleep. The whole idea is related to full body repair. Regeneration of neurons in the brain is a crucial part of the process!

          30 August, 2014 18:20 || Reply

        2. Chuckles

          Of the panoply of website I’ve pored over this has the most veyaticr.

          01 September, 2014 09:43 || Reply

      2. Dan

        My favorite comtinumy resource (next to KCRW, where I work, of course) is COOPPORTUNITY and I am SO thrilled to have been selected for the blog post Gift Card.THANK YOU!!!!!!-Sarah Spitz, happy and proud Coop member

        30 August, 2014 18:14 || Reply

      3. Kristanna

        Kudos to you! I hadn’t thgohut of that!

        01 September, 2014 08:53 || Reply

    2. Wendy

      Hi Marianne. I too am thinking of leaving my job to fulfill an urge to grow, preserve and prepare whole nutritious meals for my family. Just wondering if we can connect via email as I am wondering how it is going for you, and if you are happy with your decision. I have in the past had a community garden plot, it was quite far from my home (in Winnipeg), so it didn’t work too well. This past fall we built a raised garden bed in the backyard, planted a few fruit trees/bushes, and slowly we will get there (goal = Urban Farm 🙂 ). I also compost and have wonderful “black gold” to use in my garden. Hope we can connect. Thanks! Be well!

      Hi Adrienne – Beautiful website with wonderful information. Looking forward to more!!! Be well!

      24 November, 2014 12:55 || Reply

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