Being: Conscious, mortal existence; life.
Every month we welcome two families, two people, two voices to share their stories in whatever way they choose. This month, as we prepare to launch the spring edition of the Rhythm of the Home magazine, we have asked a handful of former Being contributors to return with reflections on life in winter. We hope that you find joy in their daily lives, and their simple habit of just being.
Those who don’t know Florida, I mean really know it, mistakenly believe we don’t experience a change of seasons here, and instead just endless sunny days and forever lush landscapes. But, oh, we do! The shifts of season in Florida are subtle, yet rich… quiet, yet deep. They are evident in the ebb and flow of our growing season; they manifest in differentiating shades of green; they ride in on salty, cool breezes and waves of stifling humidity. Winter here is a tropical wonderland with its own kind of seasonal beauty and magic.
I live on the Gulf coast of Florida in the beach town of Sarasota. For us, winter is marked by a stretch of mild, dry, sunny days that sharply contrast with the rainy, humid, and overwhelmingly-hot months of summer. We open our windows and sliding glass doors to welcome fresh air that smells of sea salt. We pull out lightweight sweaters and cozy up by outdoor fire pits as soon as it drops below 70˚! And we eagerly greet short periods of cold weather (40s-60s) that appear unexpectedly, stay for three to four days, and then disappear as abruptly as they arrived.
Still lush and green, the natural world around us no longer feels untamed and unapproachable, yet instead it calls to be explored as wild growth slows and cool breezes blow. I join my family on long nature walks through oak hammocks and pine flatwoods, all punctuated by native palms, where we spot deer in the woods, gators in the creeks, and falcons and hawks circling above the Florida scrub, in cloudless blue skies.
Winter is the heart of our growing season, and my backyard garden provides a bounty of dark leafy greens, ruby-red tomatoes, fragrant herbs, and edible flowers. The u-picks open for strawberry picking in late December and these sweet, sun-ripened jewels are piled high in flats at every local market. Jamming season begins now!
On nearly every corner, citrus trees hang heavy with fruit… lemons, oranges, and grapefruit abound. As such, marmalade, preserved lemons, and fresh juice take their seasonal spotlight in my kitchen, alongside fresh seafood – Gulf grouper, stone crabs, and oysters. Oh my!
About eight minutes from my home is Siesta Key beach, which boasts powder-fine, quartz-crystal sand that never gets hot, and the calm, blue-green waters of the Gulf. Every January, my family of four welcomes the New Year here with a tangerine-pink sunset, a picnic dinner, and a toast. This little ritual of eating in the sand by the sea, while watching the fiery sun drop into the water, is repeated throughout the season as often as possible, while the weather holds and the days are short.
And then, as subtly as it arrived, winter gives way to signs of spring. Now February, buds are forming on the citrus trees and the birds are abundant and vocal! Blue jays are at the feeder in my backyard. A pair of red-bellied woodpeckers tap on the bare cypress tree. A cardinal family takes up residence in the bamboo. In the water behind my house, a quartet of wood ducks returns, along with an egret and a great blue heron. I feel the regenerative, restful days of winter start to slip away … and begin to look toward the new beginnings and growth of spring.
Elizabeth Sniegocki writes about creating a natural and mindful environment around you and within at A Natural Nester. She offers everyday inspiration and informative feature articles on seasonal living, community building, conscious parenting, organic gardening, wholesome cooking, and more from her nest in Sarasota, Florida.
Elizabeth also leads a 6-week, journaling e-course designed to connect you to “your place” in nature. Sign up for this creative journey into nature & self, or get more info, here. Spring Session begins March 18th!
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do. To learn more about us, please visit us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
We welcome new submissions for our upcoming seasons. To learn more about submitting, please visit our magazine.