Changing Seasons and Nature's Gifts

Changing Seasons and Nature's Gifts

I've never felt seasons so keenly as I do since moving to our rural Wisconsin farm. For one thing, we spent much more time outdoors than we ever used to, whether we want to or not. Animals rise with the sun and go to bed with it too, and they're the real administrators of our schedule. Goats really want to eat when they get up and they know that some treats come with milking time. If we don't show up on time, we can hear them reminding us all the way from our beds. 

But the truth is I'd rather get up to a goat braying than to an alarm clock or the whistle of a passing train. And I'd rather have fall colors and cooling temperatures tell me the season than look at a calendar. There'll be a big push to get ready for winter soon, an explosive end to the whirling busy season that is summer, and then, with the first snow, things will get quiet. When poets liken that snow to a blanket covering a world that is going to sleep, it's an apt metaphor. I often wish we could live more in line with the seasons, because after how hard rural people work during spring, summer and fall, we could use a rest about now. 

Of course, not everything sleeps, and we'll be looking forward to seeing those lively chickadees hopping around the feeder and bright cardinals paying a visit. Deer are getting their winter colors (did you know white tails are red in the warm months and turn gray in the cold season? They're quietly and gradually morphing as we speak). Hunting season just opened, so some folks will be as busy as ever (including us - venison tallow makes an excellent soaping oil, though we don't sell venison tallow soap. Yet.). Lots of wildlife will become a bit more visible thanks to snow that records their tracks and bare trees that provide less cover.

Local farmer's markets are ending soon - they'll all close by the third week of October. But then the holiday markets begin, and helping people get ready to give their holiday gifts is top of the list for every small business owner. 

I've written before that artisan soap is a perfect gift, and I say this from experience (check out my blog post "Goat Milk Soap Before It Was Cool" - I've been giving goat milk soap as a gift since I was six years old, though it wasn't always personally handmade by yours truly). It won't clutter up anyone's space, it's genuinely useful, and because it's so luxurious and gentle it's the perfect accessory to the self-care we all need in the darker, colder season of rest. As the days get shorter some of us need a little something to brighten our moods, too - the silky feel and delicious smell of an excellent soap is just the right medicine. 

In Wisconsin the weather gets cold and dry for the winter, and skin needs all the help it can get to stay moisturized and healthy (did you know that healthy skin is a first line of defense against picking up winter germs?). The extra nourishment and moisturizing of a goat milk soap or goat milk beer soap (fortified with B vitamins from the yeast in beer) keeps skin supple and comfortable when conditions get harsh. I'd go so far as to say that goat milk is nature's gift for soothing winter dry skin discomfort.

May the changing seasons give us all something new to look forward to, and help us stay attuned to the beauty of nature around us.

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