Living in Seasonal Time


Seasonal Living

© Andrew F Kazmierski/iStockPhoto

by Donna Sinclair

Winter is coming. And that’s fine. We live in Northern Ontario, after all. I know it is close at hand because Jim and I are wearing heavy fleeces all day around the house, and he has resurrected the toque he likes to keep on his bedside table, ready for cold ears at night. Don’t laugh. He says it works.

North Bay Hydro has switched to time of use billing. We have electric everything – heat, hot water, even our lawnmower (now hibernating) is battery-powered, electrically-charged. So we watch the time.

In the morning I jump out of bed and run around the house, turning up the thermostats (one in every room) to take the chill off and then, at 7:00 a.m. precisely – when the rates go up – I shut them all off, fiercely, pulling my extra-thick fleece robe more tightly around me.

I do not complain. I like to live in seasonal time. I like to know that winter is winter, and summer is summer. I like the slow movement of the winter day in our house.

The sun comes up soon after the thermostats go down, and the south side of the house begins to warm, magically, without my help. In good weather, the sun pours in all day; and when it slides away (or when it is a grey day) Jim builds a fire in the fireplace and we close all the French doors with which our hundred-year-old house is blessed (so that’s what they are for!) and retreat to the resulting cave, and read.

I like summer too. The leaves come out on the big maple and the south side of the house is now shaded and cool. More or less. We have no air conditioner but that tree, and it is fine. When it is very hot (and people who think that “northern” is synonymous with “always cool” have never inhabited the Canadian Shield in summer) we wear shorts and T-shirts and walk to the lake with a picnic.

Retirement is pretty idyllic. But I think there is more to my pleasure in the seasons than the leisure to enjoy them. Seasons mark the passing years, a function we pre-boomers (next in line for death) might at least distrust. But I don’t.

Death’s friendliness simply means I am more tied to the natural world than ever. Those who run from one air-conditioned space to another in summer, or from warm office to heated mall in winter, have my sympathy even while – depending on the season – I seek out shade or pile on blankets. They live in a spaceship, and I live on Earth.

And she is beautiful.

A journalist for more than 30 years, Donna Sinclair is an award-winning writer who has traveled widely in Canada, Africa, Central America, Britain, and Eastern Europe. She is the author of The Spirituality of Bread, The Spirituality of Gardening, A Woman’s Book of Days, A Woman’s Book of Days 2, and numerous other titles. Donna lives with her husband Jim in North Bay, Ontario.

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Categories: Aging, Donna Sinclair, Meditation

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