As the daylight wanes and the nights grow longer, colder and darker, we draw our energy in. Instead of the labor of summer, we begin to curl inward, focusing on our internal landscape, on reading, writing, journaling, on feeding the fire, stacking and chopping wood, while cultivating our vision for the seasons to come.
December is a time to slow down, to gather with family and friends, to reflect and nurture the body and soul with warmth from the fire, with simmered stews, hot herbal teas and early nights.
"Winter brings introspection and observation," says Natalie Bogwalker, the founder of Wild Abundance, a primitive skills and permaculture school in Barnardsville, North Carolina. "It’s a time of receptivity, a time for planning the year to come, for walking the land an envisioning.”
On the medicine wheel, the seasons each have their own direction, describes Frank Salzano, a partner at Wild Abundance. Winter is the North, representing the evening and our elderhood, a time for deep reflection and hibernation. “It’s a time for deep psychic recharge and peace,” says Salzano, “when we’re reworking everything so our vision for spring is more honed. It forces us to slow down, and there is a mystical space that happens when you enter into that darkness.”
In the winter, and in the north on the seasonal wheel, there is less work to do on the homestead, and the quiet time of rest should be welcomed, for the work of the summer is not possible without this season of introspection.
In honor of the energy of the season, here is a December to-do list for the homestead, written and created by Natalie Bogwlaker, with contributions from Chloe Lieberman and Zev Friedman. This guide to permaculture through the seasons was recreated with the southeastern bio-region in mind.
Wild and Woodland Harvest
Cut and stack wood for next year.
Make wreaths and baskets out of invasive vines like honeysuckle, bittersweet, and kudzu.
Split and gather kindling.
>Coppice autumn olive and willow for basket-making materials.
Take a break!
Eat winter peas, chickweed, and kale out of hoops.
Don’t forget to keep feeding any crops that are still green with urine and ashes or liquid seaweed fertilizer.
Periodically look through stored food. Be sure to remove and eat anything that is beginning to spoil.
Feast with Family
Go out of your way to enjoy the company of friends, family, and neighbors! For this is a time to feast with those we love!
For more information on Wild Abundance and to learn more about upcoming classes including Wild Food Foraging & Cooking, Permaculture Design, Primitive Skills, Ladies Carpentry and Natural Building, check out wildabundance.net.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.