Seasonal living - why I left my great job because I didn't see Spring.
I left my first (and only) proper job because I missed the seasons.
There were probably other reasons, I mean you don't leave a great and hard won job just because you miss seeing leaves come out in Spring, but that was definitely how I felt at the time.
I was Curator of British Art at the University of Glasgow - an amazing job, an amazing collection - working away in a basement office. It was long hours and I loved it, a mix of personal research and helping students, organising exhibitions and attending openings, everything took place underground.
But for six months of the year I seemed to hardly see daylight, I had no idea about the weather.
I didn't know what was sprouting, blooming, whether the birds were singing or the bulbs emerging from chilly soil.
I was always slightly ill, I seemed to have one cold after another, recurring tonsillitis, my mood turned a bit flat. Somehow I just seemed a little disconnected from life, disconnected from me.
I decided to leave the job and change direction. I retrained in horticulture and spent my days in the open air.
Not long after I resigned from the University, we moved here - a place where weather is full on, where seasons are well defined and the shift between them is slow.
A place where there is plenty of time to immerse myself in the signs of spring, summer, autumn, winter.
It turns out that I am a person who thrives when I am living with the rhythms of the seasons.
My life works best when I can spend time outside, noticing little things, feeling the wind and the rain and the sun on my back.
Now we keep chickens, we grow food and flowers, we spend time just watching storms come in from the loch.
At this time of year I wake to the geese honking overhead as they head to pasture. There is a loud chorus in the hawthorn trees each dawn and dusk. I watch the heron hunting from frogs, I spy the earliest, tastiest nettle tips, I inspect the swaying buds of the snakeshead fritillaries.
Over the past year I have been bringing this seasonal living into Snapdragon too.
Last year we decided to jump from the conventional retail train that has Christmas designs taking up the whole of February and summery designs being drawn in October.
Instead I now have a much faster, more immediate, more connected relationship with our customers. I can draw from life, I can make much more soulful designs and show both the workings and the final designs within a week.
It is a completely different way of working, and admittedly one that doesn't fit brilliantly into magazine lead times or for getting promoted by third party marketplace websites.
However, working with the seasons has transformed everything for me so it is worth it.
My designs are clearer, brighter, better - it is the difference between working away in an office cubicle (with an out of season inspiration board and a pantone picker) and having a desk with a beautiful view. I am much more present, I am actually living what I am making.
When we decided to create a series of craft subscription boxes it was clear from the outset that they would be seasonal and that each would be distinct in feel.
The first Studio Box is all light and bright like a frothy summer meadow, the autumn one (in its very pre-prototype state) is already looking more mellow.
This year we have had rather a lot of winter, I have been heard to say that we have had too much winter.
But now, with hazel twigs sprouting their perfect miniature leaves in a vase on my desk and daffodils cheering up the orchard, I am back in the swing of the season. Sketching and writing, gathering up eggs from the bantams who have also decided that it is a new season and time to start laying again.
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