If we acknowledge that our experiences are increasingly virtual, atomised, isolated and urbanised, that we’re at often at odds with or oblivious to the natural world, how do we begin to challenge it, and begin to re-connect with the passing Seasons and their rhythms?
For me it’s not just about recycling waste, or air miles, or seasonal fruit & vegetables or even about noting the natural cycle – budding leaves/turning leaves/falling leaves in any greenery close at hand – it’s also about acknowledging and celebrating the context of specific seasonal events, the seasonal stories and the pleasures they bring; it’s getting to grips with a little natural history and exploring the inter-connections to earth, water, air & fire and place… It’s about being prepared to listen to history; to respect and engage with tradition and opening my mind to myth & folklore.
For me, the term seasonality describes artefacts, actions, events and activities that define the character, beauty and mystery of the seasons. From canalside flora & woodlands to campfires & blackberrying; from seasonal journeys inland by old boat to standing & staring; from five bar gates to maypole to mummers; from Green Man to guisers; from well-dressing to the Common Ground approach.
Seasonal stories have the potential to set us in dialogue with ourselves, each other and the wider, wilder world around us and through that dialogue, put us in touch with the archaeology of our own histories. After all it’s not so many generations ago that we’d have been defined by the Seasons to a degree that’s hard to imagine today.
Any account of the traditional festive year and the passing culture of the seasons could be criticised as mere nostalgia – a morbid affection for the remembrance of times past, an elegiac form of cultural genealogy, and unhealthy fascination with roots and origins; in short, a typical symptom of the English malady of melancholia. I could also be accused of being more sentimental than analytical in my attitude towards folk traditions. Yet even now those same traditions remain fluid as well as knowing and, sometimes, ironical. The festive calendar is diverse and often antithetical, always changing and perpetually reinvented, elusive and fugitive…
p326 The Seasons by Nick Groom
It’s time to get outdoors. To be responsible, respectful and aware. It’s time to take heed. It’s time to live and live to tell the tale. Time to acknowledge the damage we’re doing, and seek to heal the rift.