Starting Anew: Natural Rhythms and Cycles
I know it has been a while since I last posted. Since the end of last year to be exact! I was finishing projects and scheming on new ones. And, it just didn’t feel like the new year yet for me. However, over the last couple of weeks, I started watching all of my outdoor plants, that are currently inside, begin to break dormancy in their southern-facing windows (with a little help of more watering to emulate spring approaching). My potted Villard Blanc was the earliest riser, stretching its body towards the sun continuously in a never-ending cycle of sun salutations. My potted figs were the most aggressive awakeners. As soon as I increased their water supply, they broke dormancy with a bang! They were clearly sufficiently rested and ready to go! This year my Celeste figs are maturing, and it is the first year they have started little figs within the first weeks of the leaves appearing, hopefully signifying two harvests this year. Their leaves always slowly unfurl from the leaf bud, but once they unfurl, watch out, they quickly grow and grow into large sun catchers, transforming all that solar energy into delicious fruit. I must also say, fig leaves waking-up are the absolute cutest. I mean baby oak leaves, and even tulip poplars, are pretty “cute” too, but fig leaves? It is almost worth planting them just to watch this annual delight.
Seasons Change and So Do Calendars
Watching these beauties wake-up and personally feeling more aligned with welcoming renewal, prompted me to ask: why do we (most of us) celebrate New Year’s on January 1st? Because it is the last day of the Gregorian calendar which we have been using for a long time. When the early Roman calendar was used, which was only ten months long, it was celebrated on March 1st. However, Julius Caesar reformed the calendar, which often fell out of sync with the moon phases and sometimes had days added to it for political reasons (such as interfering with election processes). Rather than continue to follow the lunar cycle, the solar year was elected instead, similar to the Egyptians.
In the late 1500s, the Roman church realized there were miscalculations with Ceasar’s calendar which would accrue over the centuries. A new calendar was proposed with additional fine tuning. Since Pope Gregory XIII suggested the new calendar, it is referred to as the Gregorian calendar. Along with the new calendar came a switch from celebrating the New Year in March to when the annual calendar would start over- the night of the switch from December to January.
Just to add a little more info into the mix- in ancient Babylon, the new year was celebrated with the first new moon following the vernal equinox (late March). They celebrated with a series of festivities called Akitu, which had political, religious and agricultural significance (based on the harvesting of barley). Why am I telling you all of this?Because I went into my winter slumber so to speak, to restore, go inward, refuel and now, with my perennial plant friends as reminders, I feel like my 2018 is finally starting. Of course we have a calendar for a reason, and it certainly helps with planning, but don’t forget there are other markers of time, of cycles, of natural rhythms, and we intuitively need to heed them. So if you feel like your year has not yet been quite ready to start- tap into your perennial rhythms, instead of just the annual ones, you still have a little bit of time to get ready for renewed growth.
Has working with perennial plants helped you tap into new rhythms or cycles? Can you bring that awareness to others through your work with perennial plants?
Winter Slumber Brings Renewal
Since my new year is starting in February this year- what does February mean? Why am I drawn to start taking action again now? What ancient knowledge can provide inspiration? February is the shortest month of the year, it is a transitional month and, in many climates, one of the last months of winter. I grew-up in Upstate NY, where February is still very much winter, yet there are occasional little reminders that change is around the corner. An epic tug-of-war will start between the coldest clutches of winter snow and the dreary beginning of spring cold rains and defrosting. By the end of March, the spring is typically winning. Currently I reside in the Virginia mountains, where February is definitely signifying transition.
Februarius was the Roman name for the month, which came from the Latin term februum, meaning purification. On February 15th, a purification ritual (Februa or Lupercalia) was celebrated to purify a place of evil spirits and release health and fertility (often associated with the increase in rains washing the Earth). We won’t get into those celebrations, but I’ve found a mix of info on sacrifices and other parts of the festivities. Instead- I encourage you to think about what February means for you and the community food forest you might be involved with or any community food growing project. How can you celebrate February and honor purification to release the growth and fertility that spring should bring?
Pure Thoughts & Intentions
Purification is essentially the process of removing contaminants from something, extracting from a substance, a spiritual or ceremonial cleansing, or purging. That makes sense to me right now- I was cleansing myself over the last month or so from a lot of heavy energy that was lingering from unfinished projects. Some of which, I will share the news about this week now that they are wrapping-up. I was also purifying my thoughts, I was extracting lessons from what had been learned over the last few years. I was removing all the negative contaminating thoughts I had about projects, life path, purpose of this work, etc. All of that stuff that builds-up over time when we don’t set aside space for reflection and our pwn processes of purification. Now I’m starting to feel re-energized and ready to go!
February is a good month to think about whether there are any “contaminants” in any parts of your projects, your thoughts about them, or within your community’s thoughts and feelings about a project. Can they be extracted? Can you learn from them? Is there a way to come together and cleanse any contaminated parts of a process to get ready for the renewal of spring? Is there any negative or stagnating energy that has built-up in your project that can be examined and cleansed to make space for more positive, vibrant energy? Does some part of a project potentially need to be sacrificed to make room for growth elsewhere or break stagnation? Maybe a ceremonial cleansing or ritual can help 2018 be the best year for your project or community group. Such events help symbolize a desire for positive outcomes in the year ahead and help distill the intentions we have in approaching what we do.
A New Year & New Ideas
So happy New Year in February! Not all posts will be this meandering or long this coming year, but they will be expanding from information solely based on community food forests to include how we can be more aware in the change we are creating through projects. Because ultimately, that is what community food forest projects are all about. Creating change in our communities. I want to help you cultivate that, digest it and be intentional about it.
I have my ideas and experiences to write, but I would love to hear from you as well on what you would like to see more of on this site or if you have information to share. So please feel free to contact me below or leave comments on this post with your thoughts.
I’ll be sharing more over the coming weeks on projects that have been wrapped-up, inspired, and are still underway that will help bring you more information related to community food forests! If you find any of the information on this site helpful or enjoy the content, please consider donating now or in the coming months to keep the site running. I currently pay for it all out of pocket and could dedicate more time and resources to making the site better if that wasn’t the case.