Winter Rhythms

Winter. Here on the Mediterranean central California coast, this means not ice and snow but dark and damp. Waiting for Rain. Days and days of rain, gray skies, shiny sidewalk puddles, misty cloud forests, peeping frog voices, Rain. We had a good few weeks but we are waiting for more. Meanwhile, the days are short and the sun comes at such a slant that my little garden sees not a single ray.

Winter has been a bumpy ride — some days it all fits together, all makes sense. Other days feel chaotic, like I just can’t get the right grip on the reins I usually wield so well. I think the kids need to sleep more but somehow they just can’t. Maybe the electric city lights won’t let them hibernate like the bears they are. Maybe it’s still the holiday hangover. They seem too tired but won’t sleep more; the little one fights sleep every time.

I’m gaining confidence with our daily rhythm. When school started, my day was a detailed dance, a strict choreography leading my daughter from school back into the comforts of home. School was different every day and the other children overstimulating, so I needed sameness, predictability, and a routine that my little one could follow, so my big girl could have my arms all to herself for that first moment at home. On paper it looked like this mess:

By now the school routine is familiar and the transition a bit more relaxed. The winter holidays brought traditions, crafts, and winter themes. By the school break our week looked more or less like this. Not necessarily to the letter, but we did all these activities at some point, and our days did take a basic form. Our anchors were morning outings, afternoon tea and medicina, and dinner around the table together with any visiting guests.


I got into a good rhythm with meal planning, shopping, and cooking, based around our farm box. I have a theme for each night of the week and use these options to choose meals, depending what’s in the box.

Wednesday is bean night, and I have been very inspired by chef Samin Nosrat‘s #beanmonth round ups.

Finally, I had sketched out a year-long calendar of seasonal themes through Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie’s courses, and I am following it! And filling in much more detail as I go! It helps to be back in the fold, in her new batch of courses this year. The seasons are unfolding naturally and I find myself living the themes without even checking the “calendar.”

As per my “plan,” we have entered slow and steady January, a time for the inner world and staying warm by the hearth of home. We are exploring our local forest, wet redwood groves with their cathedral plays of light, and cedar-eucalyptus cloud forests on San Francisco’s west-facing slopes. We are waiting for the next rain when we can look for peeping frogs in their wetlands. We are enjoying the start of lemon season, adding citrus zest to our breads and cookies, waiting to make marmalade. Keeping an olla bubbling on the stove with chicken broth, brisket, or stews of chile, pork and beans. Looking ahead to our mixed-heritage festivals of Purim, Carnaval, and Passover, just around the corner.

Slow and steady. Breathing in the quiet moments in the forest, just us. Focused on simply making it through to the soothing steam of afternoon tea.

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