I’m slowly learning to live with the seasons. Having lived most of my life in Puerto Rico and Florida, I’m used to year-long warmth, and the freedom that brings. Farmers markets are held all through the year, you can go to the pool or the beach any time you want, and you’re bound to be uncomfortably sweaty regardless of what month it is. It has its advantages, don’t get me wrong, but it also makes the year kinda blend together.
When the pandemic began and life went into a downward spiral, seeing the world emerge from winter as society came to a veritable standstill was a lifeline. Blooming flowers and budding foliage constantly reminded me that in the big picture, this was just a blip and it would pass, that just like we had made it through winter, we would also make it to the warmth of summer. The moment the the sun started coming out earlier each morning and it was warm enough to finally put the jacket away, I knew I was a changed person, having gone from hating of the constant sun of the tropics, to welcoming it back like an old friend. That's when I knew I had started to live seasonally.
I've diversified my closet for each season so that I can be outside as much as I can throughout the year. I’ve become a devoted fan of farmers markets, and all the local produce they bring, learning to eat what each season produces. There is little more scrumptious than locally-grown fresh strawberries at the peak of summer, or juicy apples at the start of fall; once you've tasted that kind of sweetness, there's no going back. I may not have a farm to grow all kinds of crops, but I’ve planted a backyard garden for the last two years, and I'm certainly planning to do so again.
Part of me wishes I could have a little farm where I could grow our own food, have some chickens, live as off-the-grid as possible, and get away from the toxicity of the world. It's an improbable dream at this point in my life, even if I took an intensive crash-course in homesteading. I can, however, do the next best thing and bring some of that lifestyle into my current way of life. This is why I grow my garden, why I continually educate myself, why I’m dreaming of what I’ll be planting and where, and why I do my best to include my daughters in the process every step of the way.
Seasonality is about today, but I've learned that farming is all about tomorrow. You plant now to harvest months later; you tend to your soil now to make sure it’s healthy to yield next season; you celebrate the victories, lament the setbacks, but keep going knowing you’ll get to do it all over again next year. It is about being present in the moment, knowing that moment is part of a chain of events that resonates down the generations.
The idea of living in the now but understanding that it’s all about tomorrow takes on a new dimension when I think about my girls, about what I teach them, how I spend my time with them, what example I set. Every action I take affects their tomorrow. It's why I do my best to involve them in anything dealing with our garden, why each girl has a plant that’s her own to water and tend. I want them to learn to live with each season, to make the most of the time we have, to tend to their now and understand how it affects their tomorrow. This to me is the essence of simple living.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have a little farm, but I know I have my backyard garden, and I’ll keep working with it season after season, as long as God allows me to. My garden helps me to be a better person, helps my physical and mental well-being, helps me teach my daughters what I hope are valuable life lessons, a legacy if you will. Quite the amazing gift from an ordinary 10’x4′ plot of soil.