If you’re reading this, you’ve come through the holidays, passed the shortest day if you live in the Northern hemisphere, considered new-year’s resolutions and are back to normal life. I hope you can look back with satisfaction on the transition. The whole seasonal thing took effort on my part, but the baking paid off, the gatherings strengthened friendships.
I’m still enjoying a slice of Xmas stollen with my morning cuppa Jane, a few cookies with the afternoon cup. I’m weaning myself of the rich buttery foods. The last wines I turned into cheese fondue and shared with a friend at the end of a hiking day. The extra set of tech long-underwear I gifted. The lights that graced my garden wall are packed away. I’m thinking of spring time planting as I’m looking out at 11,000 ft-high Pueblo Mountain covered with snow. It’s 20F outside, the sun has that January feel, a cool yellow, low in the sky, but bright during the -still- short daytime hours. “I’m returning”, the sun says, and my animal nature responds. What’s next?
Down-time lends itself to future planning. I wonder if hibernating animals dream of swollen rivers full of salmon, bushes laden with berries, fat grubs in decaying forests. As a hiker, I read many social media posts talking about summer hiking trips. People are beyond dreaming and planning their trips. A good thing, because if you want to hike a long trail section, you must decide now, start training and gather information. you’ll need the time between now and then, to get ready. Tribal, nomadic living was similar: winter time was for eating the stored fattening foods, repairing and making baskets, tools, clothes, foot coverings and go out to check traps. Food gathering was lean in winter, or non-existent. People kept themselves going with dreaming of and storytelling about the abundance spring and summer could bring. This is how they nurtured hope for better times.
A Life of Ease
In 2023 we don’t starve in winter, we don’t need fattening foods to stay warm, we don’t need to tell stories because we have a plethora of digital entertainment. Yet, people follow the DNA fueled pattern of thinking and planning for the next season. Even if you’ve escaped the cold, dark winter and are snow-birding somewhere, you’re following a seasonal trek. Those living in the tropical belt year-round still have dry and wet seasons to prepare for.
Living according to your DNA is most natural and will help you stay healthy. Someone asked me, “Why don’t people seek out nature? Why have they forgotten what nature can do for them?” The answer is simple: when you numb your tastebuds with too much sugar, fat and salt, you can’t detect what foods can nurture your body. Same with activities: if you have your head in a video game, watch movies continuously, and spend most of your time indoors, you don’t notice the imbedded need for physical movement any longer, or the need for fresh air. The result of a life of ease, is disease.
Nomadic tribal living was hard. People felt the cold, the heat, and they went hungry. But, they also knew the satisfaction of eating their fill after a successful hunt, knew the belonging that comes from hunting and gathering and preparing food together. They knew the power of waiting, they knew their inner and outer strengths. They knew they were responsible for their survival, unlike modern man who is dependent on government interventions and solutions when storms strike and floods the back forty and the home. Don't take me wrong I'm not against systems that protect and help, but I don't like the one that make people helpless. Modern man can only control the cost of his/her grocery bill and supplies he/she needs to build a home by making do with less, not by growing more food or finding his building supplies in nature. Not very empowering.
Listen to your DNA
We’ve spun out in our developed society in a wish to protect, provide, and ease the life of people. By doing so, we’ve taken away valuable self governance. We’ve taken away the ability to listen to oneself, to honor the need for movement, for living with the seasons, for taking care of self. In this new year I wish you an increased ability to listen deeply to what your body and mind need, so you can stay healthy and connected with nature.
I went for a walk today. It wasn’t a planned outing; just a step-out-of-the-door and see where my legs would take me walk. The prior day’s snowhike had left me stiff and ungainly when I started out. I discovered a new trail, ended up trudging through snow and mud and had walked 5 miles by the time I came home. I got thirsty because I didn’t bring water; I could’ve used my micro spikes on the slick snow and a walking pole, but I enjoyed myself discovering the foothills where I live. The more I walked, the easier my body moved and I came home with a hungry body and a satisfied mind. I got a taste of my DNA infused need for movement and exploration. I found I can take care of myself on difficult terrain and I can handle being thirsty for some time without losing my zest for exploration.
I’m not eager to travel, not yet. I’m fine with walking the foothills and skiing a snowy track nearby. But promises to myself and family ties are calling and I’m planning trips several months from now. When the spring and summer arrive, I’ll be ready to take myself on a nomadic journey, finding my connection to the big realm. I hope you can do the same.