February 1, 2023

Simple Living by the Seasons

Living my simple life, the weather and the seasons impact on my money saving routine, how are use my house, my frugal habits, and how I spend my time.  I didn’t really realise it until recently as it seems to occur naturally and I do things automatically without thinking about them.  As I pondered on it I realised that this is how life has been lived for centuries.  Life was aligned with the seasons just as mine is now.  The weather, the daylight, the temperature, the natural resources, all dictate how I spend my time, and in turn I make the best use of these natural resources.  This has kind of got lost in modern life with the invention of electrical lighting, gas central heating, food being shipped in from various parts of the world and stocked in massive supermarkets, cars to protect us from travelling in the rain, and set hours that we are expected to work, whatever the season.  Due to the fact that I live on my small occupational pension and have chosen to disconnect from that world as much as possible,  I am finding myself drifting back into a natural way of living. 
In the winter I tend to go to bed earlier and have more time resting.  I cook mainly on the woodburning stove that provides my heat and some of my light, or in a slow cooker or air fryer. I only wash on the days the stove is on so that I can get things dry. On sunny days in winter I sit in the conservatory where it is warm and light from the reflection of the sun. My fresh food will be less and mainly seasonal, or will have been previously preserved through freezing, dehydrating or bottling.  Food will be more stodgy like dumplings, stews, baked items, and milk puddings to keep me warm and filled, and then I will have more luxurious treats for Christmas.   Some of these treats and other treats bought in the January sales will be saved to have luxury food for Easter. Nature will come inside the home with the Christmas trimmings and wreaths. I spend most of my time inside decluttering, mending, decorating, cleaning and learning new skills and writing. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen where the stove is, sitting in my bed with the blankets on, or in the front room during the couple of hours a day the heating is on to stop the house getting damp.  I spend time planning rather than doing.  I collect water in the water butts and surplus in bowls and only have a few crops in the greenhouse.
In spring my day starts to lengthen with the hours of day light.  Preserved and stored food starts to run out.  I am able to eat a few early fresh crops like spinach, radishes and Pak Choi.  My meals often become more imaginative and using what I have.  My conservatory becomes an extra giant green house and is an ideal place to sow my food for the next year. My home is filled with nature as seedlings will fill all the window sills as well.  I spend more time outside getting the garden ready and foraging to supplement my diet, and for fuel to season for a following year. Wild garlic and pesto feature a lot in our meals. I spend a lot less time in the kitchen. I wash only on dry days and make more use of rain water.  We also travel more and have more days out as the crops can go a few days without watering.
In summer I will cook more outside and eat outside.  I have a pizza oven, a BBQ and often use a camping stove to make curries or seaside doughnuts and churros.  There is no nature in the house unless it is being eaten or preserved. Wash days are dictated by fine, dry days and I will take advantage of these by washing curtains and coats and larger items that only get washed a few times a year. My food will be mainly light, quick meals like filled wraps or grilled meat with lots of salad and stir fry vegetables picked from the garden. I rarely need to visit the shops.  We will also have lots of picnics. My days will be long and start when the sun rises and finish late in the evening.  I spend most of my time outside walking, gardening, harvesting, foraging and exploring.  My conservatory becomes a place to dry my herbs, cook from the heat of the sun and to sit in the warmth on an evening using the solar lights.  My front room is where I go when I need to be cool.  House hold chores are done early in the morning or on rainy days.
Autumn is all about collecting and preserving and storing as much food as possible through harvesting and foraging.  It is a time to reflect and appreciate all our hard work, We will make cordials, pasta sauce, lazy garlic and chilli, apple sauce, bottle pears and pesto.  It is a time to collect leaves and plants for the compost heap, last minute foraging of wood and cones for another year, conkers to make  detergent and to scare away the spiders, and rosehips for vitamin C during the winter. It is a time for saving seeds to sow for free food the following year. The fire pit is used for cooking some times or for keeping us warm on an evening. The conservatory becomes a place to ripen tomatoes, dry remaining herbs, dry the washing if there are no dry days. We spend more time in the front room on an evening as it is not really cold yet.  It is a time we are free to travel more, and a time of packing things away and preparing for a long winter.
Rosehip Syrup.
Living this way saves me a lot of money. It worries me that people generally are losing this connection with nature. We are losing all the skills that can save us money like lighting fires, cooking from scratch, growing food, saving seeds, preserving, mending and making clothes etc, and we are relying more and more on technology and consumerism. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful that we have labour saving devices as my life is not as hard as that of my Grandma, but I just worry that we have become reliant on power and energy driven tools rather than just using them to help when we really need to.  An example of this is that I rarely use a vacuum but use a sweeping brush instead.  I don’t use a tumble dryer or a dish washer but I do use a washing machine (sparingly) and I do use a fridge and freezer.  I have a car but use it less in the summer when the weather is fine and I have longer days.

I don’t want to have to be reliant on technology. It is a brilliant thing to have, but I want to keep my skills, and be less reliant on others, save money and have more choices. Energy is expensive to run these devices as well. The more we lose these skills and connection with nature, the more reliant we are on energy companies, supermarkets, the government etc. I am not a radical but I want to have control of my life and feel free to make my own choices of how I live my life.

We live below the poverty line and would be entitled to benefits, but if we started claiming we would have to start jumping through hoops, following rules, and be encouraged to go back to a stressful job to get them. Living a simple, frugal life on a small pension means we don’t have to, thankfully. Being attuned to the seasons is good for our mental and physical health, and helps us live a balanced life. Most people work at the same fast pace all year. I burned out that way under the constant stress and juggling of priorities. I lived for years in a daze, just getting through each day and not enjoying life. Now as I live with the seasons, during Spring as my energy increases I will do more, and my work load will increase. I notice the beauty around me, the freshness and the feeling of hope as everything wakes up . During Summer and Autumn I work hard as I do outside maintenance on the house, grow food, harvest, preserve, but I also play hard enjoying picnics and walks, and foraging. Then I will rest during Winter, I will almost hibernate, and I will have time to refresh, to think and plan. Living frugally so that I could retire early, by living on less and putting my health first, saved me. I now notice the seasons and my life is based around them, even though I live in a suburban area and am not a farmer. Nature knows best and I intend to teach my Grandson how to connect to it. Do your money saving habits change by the seasons?

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  1. Eve February 10, 2023 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    This post is very timely as only the other day my sister and I were discussing this very topic. She was saying that we need to go back to buying food in season like mum used to. I sort of semi hibernate in the Winter and read all the books I have collected for free during the summer. I love mother nature and watching her do her magic on our beautiful Earth.

    • ToniG February 12, 2023 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      I am glad that the post gave you a nudge x

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    • ToniG February 15, 2023 at 6:41 am - Reply

      Thanks. That is really kind of you to say.

  3. Michele Shelly March 16, 2023 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Toni, thank you so much for this piece. It sets out exactly how I wish to live my life. I will retire, at 60, in 56 months ( not counting, honest!) This way of life is the way forward for me. I have been a member of your Facebook group for a while, which I find so inspirational, but have only just discovered your website. I am looking forward to exploring and learning. Thank you 💜

    • ToniG March 17, 2023 at 6:38 am - Reply

      Aww congratulations for making the decision to retire early. I must admit that there is not a day goes by that I do not feel happy about my decision. It does take effort and hard work to live a simple, frugal life but the rewards are immense. I am glad that you are enjoying being part of our lovely community and thank you for your kind words x

  4. […] Are you living a seasonal life?  How can you live more by the seasons, and which small steps can you take to connect closer to nature?  You will find another article that I wrote last year that has more detail  about how we live seasonally. (click here) […]

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