As on this whirligig of Time
We circle with the seasons. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ‘Will Waterproof’s Lyrical Monologue’
In our increasingly atomised and urbanised lives how do we keep track of the passing Seasons and their rhythms?
For me it’s not just about seasonal fruit and vegetables or noting the natural cycle – the budding leaves or falling leaves – in any greenery close at hand, it’s also about acknowledging and celebrating the times when specific cultural or natural events occur. And, it’s about being prepared to listen to history, respect and engage with tradition and open my mind and eyes to folklore.
To me, the term seasonality describes actions, events and activities that define the character, beauty and mystery of each Season.
From canalside flora and woodlands to building campfires and blackberrying; from seasonal journeys inland by old boat to standing and staring and taking the world in; from maypole…
the Seasons give form to our existence. Their roots enable us to steady our fast moving and transient pace of modern life and can – if only momentarily – put us in touch with the archaeology of our own histories. After all it’s not so many generations ago that we’d have been defined by the Seasons to a degree that’s hard to imagine today.
Any account of the traditional festive year and the passing culture of the seasons could be criticised as mere nostalgia – a morbid affection for the remembrance of times past, an elegiac form of cultural genealogy, and unhealthy fascination with roots and origins; in short, a typical symptom of the English malady of melancholia. I could also be accused of being more sentimental than analytical in my attitude towards folk traditions. Yet even now those same traditions remain fluid as well as knowing and, sometimes, ironical. The festive calendar is diverse and often antithetical, always changing and perpetually reinvented, elusive and fugitive… p326 The Seasons by Nick Groom