For those of you who live in places where you experience the actual changing of seasons, this may not strictly apply, but I think the concept is useful even if you do have fall leaves and a real winter and spring.
I’ve lived in the desert all my life. And all my life I’ve dreamed of living somewhere that I can experience the changing of the seasons. Feel the deep cyclical rhythm of nature. But alas, I have only “cook an egg on the sidewalk”, “burn your fingers on your steering wheel while trying to drive” (this is not a joke you guys) kind of summer that turns into a snowless cold (and by that I mean like 40’s for a low) kind of winter. Spring and fall are almost non-existent.
At first glance, it may seem like we don’t have any “seasons” as is traditionally recognized. But that means we have to look closer. Past the large and obvious changing leaves and piles of winter snow.
There are still changes happening. Some are small, barely noticeable in the landscape around you. Some are larger social shifts. You just have to pay attention and have the eyes to see.
If you live in the Phoenix area, then here are a few things that I’ve been able to finally tune in to.
March: The orange trees will start to flower and their blossom scent will start perfuming the air.
And it’s a prime time for planting (although here you can do it almost year round)
April: The wildflowers will start coloring the mountains and sides of freeways. Our Empress tree is shooting up like a giant and her enormous leaves are unfurling and looking glorious
May: School is winding up, flowers are still blooming, and the mornings are still cool so enjoy them!
June: Kids are out and it’s the time for lazy days, swimming, popsicles, going to the movies, taking a vacation, and any indoor activity you can find! Savor the peaches, berries, cherries, corn on the cob, and the glorious tomatoes and basil!
July: Summer vacation is in full swing for most people and we are swimming as much as possible (partly because it’s fun and partly because what else are we going to do outside when it’s 118 degrees?). Our Empress tree’s large leaves are now withering away in the heat, crisping up and turning yellow before they fall off and leave her looking bare and straggly. Other plants are also looking wilty, yellow, and sad by this point.
August: For us, it’s a a month of birthdays and seeing what indoor home projects we can do because you know, it’s melting outside. Oh and more swimming.
September: The first hint of a cool morning again. Kids back in school, and a hopeful light at the end of the endless heat of summer tunnel. For me, it’s when I start wanting to settle back into being at home more and re-establishing a routine. Again, a planting season is coming up, so garden planning starts. Where we live in Buckeye, we start seeing the cotton growing.
October: The mornings and evenings are cooler, but it’s still pretty warm during the day. The cotton is blooming with white puffs. Pumpkin spice things start cropping up and we pretend it’s cold outside by baking fall things and pulling out a few decorations and drinking warm fall drinks as long as we have the A/C going. The garden has been planted. Things are starting to green up again and some plants start blooming again.
November: Still waiting for it to be cold enough to wear a sweater during the day, but the nights are getting colder. We start walking to the library again and spending more time outside. The cotton plants are turning brown now and the getting close to harvesting. As I see the cotton ripening, I know my wedding anniversary is getting closer.
December: Finally it’s sweater time! Out come all the Christmas things, we bake our traditional Christmas cookies, drink eggnog, think about planning for the next year, evaluating and assessing and remembering our year. Oranges, grapefruit , and lemons are all ripe and plentiful, so I indulge as much as I can!
January: A fresh start, however that looks like for you. Some years I’m clutter busting or doing “spring” cleaning, we might go up and see the snow, and I’m thinking about settling back into rhythms again after the holidays.
February: Start planning the garden again and enjoy the cold weather while it lasts.
Ideas for Observing:
1. Seasonal calendar.
Get a cheap calendar, or print out one and anytime you notice something seasonal write it down. It may be, “Basil sprouted” or “planted the garden”, or “The baby birds hatched”, or “The wildflowers started blooming”. It can be anything. It could be what food is in season, or what people are doing, or even how you are feeling, or things you want to do. Whatever comes to mind. Then at the end of the year, you can flip through it and start to anticipate what’s coming and be looking for the changes.
2. Keep a garden journal.
If gardening is your thing, you can grab any kind of notebook or journal and write down what you planted and when. How long it took for them to sprout, flower, be ready for harvest. If you like it or not, if it did well or not. Maybe the cantaloupe choked out your tomatoes, so note for next year, don’t plant them so close. What worked and what didn’t.
3. Log it in your phone.
Maybe analog doesn’t work well for you, so find an app, or even just jot down in Notes, your observations.
4. Set a reminder on your phone.
You could have it go off once a week or however often you like to remind you to look around for any changes. Sometimes we just need a nudge because “Mommy brain” and “Decision Overload” and ALL THE THINGS.
5. Use the “Embrace Your Season” calendar.
If some of those options seem too time intensive, you can print out the calendar from the “7 Steps to Embracing Your Season” printable that you get when you subscribe and keep it in you homemaking binder (if you have one), or anywhere else that makes sense for you. You can jot down some things that you want to enjoy or use to mark the changing of the seasons and then refer back to it at the beginning of each month to see what you might want to prioritize or keep an eye out for.
P.S. If you haven’t gotten it yet, you can sign up at the bottom of the post!
Your seasonal map of the year may look totally different then mine. You may live downtown with not a cotton field in sight. Or noticed entirely different things that I haven’t seen yet. But tapping in to whatever small changes you find, can help tie you into the cycles and rhythms and that connection can make a really big difference in living fully. In embracing the season big or small.
It’s made my life feel fuller and helps me see with more gratitude and less complaining. Cultivating the wonder and living more present in the moment reminds me that God’s creation is magnificent, and the only thing I truly have control over is how I respond to my circumstances. So how much better to have fun, cultivate joy, and choose cheerfulness and a grateful heart?
I still long to experience the traditional changing of the seasons and maybe one day I will, but for now I’m going to work on living fully where I am. It’s a work in progress but it’s worth it!
Do you have any ideas to add? We’d love to hear!