Breathing in, Breathing out; Nature Prepares us.

I feel like this week we have been thrust into the middle of winter with a Southerly cold snap, the kids both have colds and after our beautiful long weekend away at Motutere Bay where it was so warm that I went for a proper swim without a wetsuit, I feel slightly deflated. Along with that, New Zealand had a Covid scare and where we live we have been swiftly put into level two restrictions which has resulted in events being cancelled across the country along with the iconic Art Deco festival that was going to be held this weekend in Napier. So gutting!

But by the time I post this though and you read this we will be back to hot summer temperatures and will most likely have restrictions lifted. The new yoyo world we live in is hard to adjust to sometimes. I am sure though that over time many of us will become a whole lot more resilient because of it.

This week I started reading a beautiful new book Sun, Moon and Stars by Juliet Batten. This book is about celebrating the seasons with our families and friends. Juliet is one of my favourite New Zealand authors and I have many of her books, including my favourite Celebrating the Southern Seasons which I refer to often. Sun, Moon and Stars is a beautiful extension of her earlier book, and explores how we can celebrate our Southern Seasons with our loved ones. One of the sections in each chapter talks about preparing yourself for these celebrations and the challenges around celebrating our seasonal celebrations when typically New Zealanders don’t celebrate our seasons, we tend to celebrate northern hemisphere celebrations at the wrong time of year. I have found this part of the book extremely helpful as it has been a challenge that has popped up on numerous occasions for our family. When I prepare I find it much easier to adapt to a situation, and change plans quickly without it affecting me too much and being able to carry on. When we are prepared we can often be more resilient, even if it makes us a tad sad that it didn’t all go to plan.

Preparedness is something I have been thinking a lot about over the past year, and actively becoming more prepared for things to swiftly change. When we were put in our first lockdown in March 2020 many of us were not prepared for any sort of lockdown, disaster or even a power cut.

This week as we were again swiftly put into lockdown we hear reports or media hype that supermarket shelves were stripped bare within hours of the announcement, how is it that we all know that there is enough food and resources for everyone and that essential stores will stay open but we still go out and reduce the shelves to nothing, creating even more fear for the people who come in after and see empty shelves.

One of the reasons I love living in a rural town is that I often get to drive through the country to go anywhere and everywhere. I get to see the changes in the seasons each day, whereas when we lived in the city I could go weeks without driving out of Napier and Hastings. The towns and places we went to were often a short drive, (even parks and rivers) and we only saw the hills in the distance because the land is flat and much of the agricultural land in between the cities has now been taken over by the urban sprawl and industry. Now I really get to see the seasonal changes in the countryside, hay paddocks getting baled, lambs being born, spring blossoms, frosted countryside, autumn leaves and late crops being harvested. I see hills out of my kitchen windows, I see the rain clouds closing in, I see the sun rise over the hills, changing degrees with the tilt of our earth throughout the year.

Reading through Juliet’s new book it really made me ponder how when we follow and celebrate the seasons that we can naturally prepare ourselves for the year and for future events. Along with that it can help us become more resilient for when we are thrown challenges and upheaval. Celebrating the seasons makes us more aware that we need to plant, nurture, harvest, seed save and store our crops. Celebrating our seasons makes us more aware of changes in the weather, so that we take warm clothing or our togs to the beach, river or mountain. Celebrating the seasons lets us see that life has cycles and that from winter, darkness and sleep comes spring, new life and warmth. Celebrating our seasons can give us joy in times of uncertainty, knowing that their is still a natural rhythm in the world.

As we near the time of harvest in New Zealand, (February and March) we can see an abundance of work going on, grape and berry picking, hay being baled, our vegetable patches may be giving us an abundance of corn, tomatoes and capsicum. Many of our flowers gardens will be going to seed which we can collect and pass on to friends, save or throw back out into the garden. As we take time to watch and participate, this helps us prepare for Autumn and Winter but it can also help prepare us for uncertainty. Knowing that even when there is chaos and noise in our human world, there is also a silence in the natural world gently breathing in and breathing out giving us hope that times of peacefulness will return.

What have you noticed as the change of seasons approaches? Have you taken a wander around your garden, local park or even down your street to see what nature is doing in this season.

I highly recommend purchasing or borrowing Sun, Moon and Stars from your local library, it’s one of those books that all New Zealanders should have a read of, especially since next year we will get to celebrate our first official Matariki holiday. This book will give you ideas of how you can prepare and celebrate the eight seasonal celebrations throughout the year.

Happy Harvest

Rebeckah.

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