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A Seasonal Way - the why

a seasonal way - spring

Many of you will know that I live with an auto-immune condition and that over the past decade or so I have discovered that by altering the way I live my life I can diminish the severity of my symptoms and thrive.

One of the weird things about having an auto-immune disease is that there are no external symptoms and on bad days I often worry that I have made it all up - I mean the test results prove that there is something actively, measurably wrong, that should be reassuring, but all the fogginess, the moodiness, the crushing fatigue - what if that is somehow all in my mind. Speaking to others with similar diagnoses I find that this is incredibly common. That voice in the head that goes "But what if you are just being lazy?".

My solution to this has been to read. To read a lot.

I am a researcher at heart - that is pretty much what 2 decades of my life were about, gathering and processing information as a historian - so I suppose it isn't surprising that I have chosen to spend the last ten years reading about breakthroughs in positive psychology and neuroscience, in nature medicine, herbalism, the history and folklore of plants, the science around creativity, foraging, soil microbes.

For a non scientist (a horticulture qualification was the nearest I got to anything sciency, I dropped everything else as soon as I could) I have an awful lot of scientific papers saved on my laptop.

a seasonal way - spring

If you get my newsletter and even more if you are a Studio Member, you will have been in on the journey, so much of this research is mind blowing, life altering and I feel it should be being shouted about from the tree tops much more than it is.

Over the holidays I sent out a newsletter about gorse - it was a shortened version of the nature notes that I have been sending out to members of Snapdragon Studio over the past couple of years - a mix of drawings, history, recipes and folklore.

I have never had such a response to an email - perhaps it was that people had time to act on it over the holidays, perhaps it was that it came at the darkest point of the year in the Northern hemisphere - I don't know, but I had tales from people of taking grandchildren up to smell the gorse on a golf course, memories of washing drying on gorse bushes in the Western Isles, recipes for ice-cream.

Most of all I got requests for more of the same.

a seasonal way - spring

So I suppose that is what A Seasonal Way is - it is more of the same, a slightly eccentric mix of nature, creativity, recipes, science, poetry and illustration - the contents of my brain and my current obsessions packaged up as 5 PDFs sent out over 2 months.

What it isn't is a curriculum or a 'to do' list - there isn't any homework, I actually hope that it will wind its way ninja style into people's lives and that they will find themselves looking out for ash twigs and dandelions, making rather than buying balms, confident in growing things. I hope that it works by osmosis.

There is a closed facebook group which will be open to everyone who buys the course and I'm really excited about seeing what the world is like outside people's front doors.

Because so much of the material is the kind of thing that Snapdragon Studio Members get - and some of it is re-edited from the Members' magazine - all Studio members are getting the entire thing as part of their membership. That makes it a great time to become a member! registration closes on 4th February and the first part will go out later that week.

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Did you have a good Easter break?  We went to Spain to visit our eldest daughter and came back late last night, possibly actually early this morning. ⠀
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The Tuesday after Easter is always an important date for me, for even though my baby birds have flown the nest, I still get the new term feeling. And the term between Easter and summer is always a busy one, so much to fit in! ⠀
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The start of a new week⠀
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The start of a new season. ⠀
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The start of a new planner, new journal. ⠀
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New plans, new pens, new garden to plant. ⠀
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These pheasants eye narcissi - with their perfect eye liner - are flowering under the plum trees in the orchard. The perfect morning commute.
On Sunday night Euan turned to me and said “I don’t think we have ever made as much difference to the garden in such a short time.”⠀
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⁣ He was right. In October we had brought in soil to make raised beds - turning the ground slick and slippery. All winter and Spring I looked at mud and worried about all the people that I had told that there would be a garden to see in May. ⠀
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But then - dry weather, fierce cold winds and suddenly on Friday afternoon we could barrow and build and by Sunday night . . . There are the beginnings of a new productive garden - a mix of vegetables and flowers for cutting. ⠀
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As usual Euan did all the heft and heavy stuff and I planted and staked and fluffed up mulch. ⠀
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If you are coming along to A Seasonal Day on 8th May I am pleased to say that there will be a garden! ⠀
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Sometimes projects come together really quickly - one of the best things about having a small making business is that you can go from idea to having something for sale in a single day. ⠀
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This was not one of those projects - I had the idea in our busy Christmas period, took away the samples to knit while travelling in Asia in February, and yet only put the kit up on the website yesterday. ⠀
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I don't normally post many direct product shots here - but this one is special to me. I wanted to make a beginners’ knitting kit that allows people to knit something practical and quick - in this instance beautiful cotton face cloths and exfoliating cleansing wipes - and which felt substantial yet not daunting. My aim with everything is to make it easy for people to give things a go. ⠀
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And I wanted it to look beautiful and be practical and all be packaged up in way that was part of the kit. ⠀
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Everything came together earlier this week and I’m so pleased with how it looks, the squidgy cotton balls of yarn, the instruction cards and needles all in their own specially printed drawstring project bag. ⠀
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I hope you like it too.
How do you like to learn? I used to be happiest just battering on by myself, making mistakes, googling. But increasingly I find I’m preferring to be shown things by someone who knows what they are doing, to have the space to ask questions, and then to go home and try everything on my own with the option to call if I get stuck. ⠀
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I find my mind opened so much more by talking to other people - rather than beginning a project from my own limited viewpoint. ⠀
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I had a great time yesterday learning E-magazine production with Eleanor from @creativecountryside and today I’m planning to practice everything by re-formatting the guide to getting the most from your cut flowers to send out with the next newsletter. ⠀
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I also met up with @bob_sy - all arranged on an Instagram whim - and had a wonderful evening discussing kindness, connection and creativity. ⠀
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Increasingly I love being able to move beyond typed words and have great rambling conversations. Is anyone else finding the same? ⠀
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GIVEAWAY - Today I am getting the train down to Lancaster to meet Eleanor from @creativecountryside.  She is going to be showing me the ins and outs of making a magazine.⁣⠀
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I have always loved the aesthetics of Creative Countryside magazine - the solidity of it, the surety - so when the chance came up to take a masterclass in how to put it together I jumped at the opportunity.⁣⠀
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I love putting together the e-magazines for Studio Members and A Seasonal Way, but I am very aware that I am simply joining together PDFs.  I want to create something more magical, more meant.⁣⠀
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My lesson is co-inciding with suddenly having fast WiFi at home - so uploading a magazine no longer requires a drive to Stirling to poach University WiFi.  This will change Everything!⁣⠀
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This magazine is the first bumper edition of Creative Countryside, as it turns from a quarterly into a biannual publication. ⁣⠀
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I am a contributor to this edition, as well as subscribing, so I have an extra copy which I would love to give away. ⁣⠀
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Just comment here - and make sure you are following me - and we will pick a name at random next Tuesday.⁣⠀
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(The knitting is the #comfortblanketkal by @louisetilbrookdesigns which shall be my train knitting)
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I knew this greenhouse as a child. It had a grapevine then, and a lead dipping trough that was home to motherless ducklings. ⠀
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There were long snakes of terracotta pots under the staging and I got to turn the cranks to open windows in the roof. ⠀
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When it was abandoned and began to fall down we asked if we could take it and give it a new home - and now  it stands in our drive, the oldest thing here. ⠀
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Euan rebuilt it all exactly - with a new base, but with everything else original.  It turned out to be a superior form of flat pack.⠀
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This weekend I stood in the greenhouse, mid watering the seedlings that are crammed in tiers onto the staging and floor, and tried to link it back to when I was seven. ⠀
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I couldn’t. Then is was an enormous space of dust and spiders and broken glass , of benches to climb on and a cold, dark trough of water we were to stay away from. ⠀
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Now it is my garden in waiting. Waiting for May. ⠀
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I did think I should maybe plant a grape vine though.
I photographed this heart of honeysuckle on the Isle of Bute last month - a random reminder that nature is at the heart of everything that I love.⁣⠀
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Also last month, I spent a wonderful evening with my friend @hazey107 - and she told the story of why she had crossed the school playground to make friends with me 16 years ago.⁣⠀
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Seemingly I was standing waiting for the P1s to come out, my toddler on my hip.  Her bright blonde hair was full of leaves and sticks, her bare feel black with soil.  Hazel immediately felt that, with such a feral looking child, I must be her kind of person.⁣⠀
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We would have been travelling back from the field where I grew my flowers at that time, we hadn't yet found this house.⁣ I was probably worried about being the only scruffy Mum at the school gate. ⠀I never felt I did school gates very well. ⁣⠀
But hearing Hazel’s story I was so glad that I never mastered that
We are promised a dry and sunny weekend here in Stirlingshire. I have 3 days completely clear of commitments. The greenhouse is full of seedlings, the ground is dry enough to work. I have 4 tonnes of mulch in the drive. 🌱

I can barely contain my excitement. 🌱🌱 I’ve been awake since 5 (though obviously still in bed!) 🌱🌱🌱 What do you have planned for the weekend?
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About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here

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