Seasonal Living

So much going on in such a small space.

Over my last two blogs I’ve endeavoured to explain how my life journey brought me to the point of being a Woodland Ways Instructor and the way I try to live (read Oh for a simple life and Honouring our Ancestors) so to round things off with this topic theme I thought this time of year lends itself to my approach to seasonal living.

As a species we’re used to a seasonal life – hunter gatherers focussing on animal migration and plant cycles before becoming more concerned with crop and harvesting cycles when agriculture took over – but modern life has taken us away from this close connection to the seasons dictated by nature and weather and instead lets us create our own or have others create them for us. I’m certain your life is dictated by artificial and loosely connected natural “seasons” regardless of what you do or how you live but especially if you have children at school. I know when I worked in marketing all those years ago the seasons fell in line with tax year ends, budget announcements etc. because the main product was accounts and payroll software.

In my life now Spring, Summer and Autumn are the busy times with work where courses are in full swing and the woods become my home for days and weeks at a time. This is my financial season and my equivalent of the saying “make hay while the sun shines”. However, back at home it’s also a growing and harvesting season where my wife gives as much attention as she can to producing as much food as possible from our back garden and allotments. So where I work hard for monetary reward to raise funds for the things you can’t create, grow or barter (e.g. mortgage), my wife works just as hard, if not harder, to make sure we don’t need to spend it on things we can produce ourselves.

I love working in the woods and visiting different habitats all around the world but I like the habitat on my doorstep too. Remember tidy isn’t always beautiful and beautiful can also be productive.

8 years ago when we moved in we inherited a rectangular lawn. Today many people will view our garden and food forest as messy but to us it feeds both us and a wide array of insects, birds and mammals. The sign is in our front garden and then if you’re ever lucky enough to be invited through you might get to see the splendour and wildness of the back garden.

What habitat and wildlife do you act as custodian of on your doorstep?

Taken from a Social Media post by Barry Hammick on the Woodland Ways group page dated 15th May 2021

With Winter fast approaching my focus is changing away from my financial season but there will be no hibernation in this house. Winter is the time for all the P’s in the form of prioritising, planning, preparations and projects. First of all the home based tasks have been stacking up during my absence so they need to be prioritised and tackled. My wife is very resourceful at solving problems and fixing things but some things fall to me based on our differing strengths. It’s also a time for kit maintenance but there is also an important element of self-care that needs to happen for a few days just to calm down and rest from a busy few months. Once things are caught up on my wife and I kick into the planning phase to decide what needs to be achieved over the Winter but each with our own focus – her, the growing for next year, and me, firewood for future winters and supporting her, along with the learning, skills etc. we both want to acquire.

After careful thought processes we both start making the preparations to begin implementation and allocating money for any purchases that may be needed.  Note the use of the word “needed” as it really is key to how we live – any “wants” come way down the pecking order of allocating money.  This year my preparations are a bit of a mixed bag of skills and physical projects.  First up is all the things I need to gain my chainsaw qualifications.  I’ve used a chainsaw for years but never needed to have the ticket as I’ve never earned money from this skill.  I also have canoe qualifications firmly in my sights ready for when we can start travelling overseas and getting customers out to amazing places like Sweden and the Yukon.  With all these things it’s very easy to throw money at a problem to solve it but our mind-set is always to minimise the use of this option and find other approaches if at all possible so the preparations can get quite involved,  a simple life can actually be very complicated to achieve.  There are also lots of simple things lined up that need time and smaller levels of resources to be allocated but should not be overlooked – these are the final phase and the long list of projects.

At the moment I’m focussing down time on hand drill friction fire.  It’s a skill I have but one that is easily lost as not many courses in a year cover it in detail so unless you take time to keep up the practice it’s easy to get rusty or indeed lose the skin condition on your hands.  With that in mind I’m beginning to allocate time every day on practice.  I’m not bothered about getting the ember every time just going through the motions and really paying attention to technique and where any hot spots might appear on my hands as these either highlight poor technique or the need to condition them better.  Having spent years learning to run barefoot I know it’s a slow process and very easy to do too much, too soon.  I could happily chase the glory of getting the ember but if I destroy my hands in the process and then need to wait for them to heal before I can practice again I’ve failed in my long-term goal.  The trouble is the modern world teaches us instant gratification and immediate results where speed is everything – but not here.

More tangible projects are also lined up as well.  Lockdown last year enabled me to catch up on processing skins into leather, buckskin and fur on but only the time to make one item out of a few of them as it was truly ambitious for me and took every ounce of concentration to get right (see below – Keela Harris Tweed Smock inspired fusion of wool and buckskin).  I have numerous thoughts of what I’d like to create out of the pile that is sitting looking at me so when I’ve decided that may well be the theme for my next batch of blogs.

So there you have it my seasonal approach to life in a nutshell.  Like I said, we all have them, but perhaps stop and ask yourself if the focus is in the right place to achieve what makes your heart sing and, more importantly, is it one you’ve created or one someone else created for you?

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