Experiencing four distinct seasons is a powerful way to tell time. Each season brings with it an element of life and death and teaches us to embrace change.  Many of us think of the seasons in terms of what we wear or how the weather affects our commute; however, how many of us stop to think about how the seasons affect our diet and medicines?

Increasingly, we buy our medicines and our food from grocery stores. When we walk into a store and find all that we need, it becomes difficult to notice the true impact of the seasons on what we eat and how we feel. As science progresses, technology continues to fuel the advancement of hybrid seeds resistant to Mother Nature’s woes. Technology supports farming machinery to achieve greater yields of large-scale crops, ensuring the things we enjoy consuming are constantly available on store shelves.  The convenience of shopping disconnects us from the spirit of our food, and ultimately distracts us from the stories that Mother Nature is telling us, especially through her gifts of the changing seasons.

When does winter truly end? How long is spring, really? What if we let go of the idea that the answers to these questions come from a calendar, and instead, turn our collective gaze toward nature? Consider that winter ends when the Red Squirrel awakens and begins to nibble Maple Tree’s stems, signalling the maple sap to begin to flow. Spring arrives when coltsfoot pops out its mysterious yellow flower before its signature leaves arrive. Trilliums and trout lilies tell us how long we have until spring disappears. And as soon as it gets too warm, we learn that summer has arrived. Raspberries emerge telling us summer is ending and it is time to load up on fat stores with Wintergreen signalling our last chance at berries before the deep snow arrives. All these plants are also gifts of Mother Nature and were once received as wild foods and wild medicines, by human beings.

When one remembers what to eat, in what season, and by what is available in nature, then one also begins to see the changes in what Mother Nature can offer as weather patterns shift. To truly understand the weather and the climate, one must return to nature. When one grows a garden and watches peas whither in the early spring heat, or the squash shrivel due to drought, or apple blossoms bloom too early, only to be killed by frost; when one mourns another season without fruit, one can no longer remove oneself from Mother Nature’s narrative.

As someone who gardens and forages, I feel a deep connection to the seasons and all their changes. I may not fully understand the magnitude of the impact of the seasons, but I feel the struggles of Mother Nature; she reminds me of my connection to her well-being. For me, the way I understand how I can be of service to healing the Earth means to first to live with and through Mother Nature’s cycles; to experience her cycles with all my senses; and to accept that to re-learn her ways, I must get away from the fluorescent lights and the straight, cropped garden rows, and bear witness to the messages found throughout the forest landscape.

I invite you to choose to get familiar with food and medicines that are in season and to embrace the cycle of seasonal changes. Then, and only then, can we truly remember how to love Mother Nature and steward the land in ways that can help us heal the planet and humanity.

Edible wild evening primrose











By Tawny Stowe


Photo Credits:

Edible wild evening primrose photo: Tawny Stowe

Header Photo: Karl Heinz Muller, Unsplash

Change is constant. We know this, but just how aware of change are we? If I asked you whether the moon was waxing or waning and at what time and where you would see it in your sky tonight, would you be able to answer without asking Google? The moon is a constant reminder of change. Each month, Moon guides us through a cycle of death and rebirth; she guides the oceans’ tides to ebb and flow and encourages our own inner waters to pause and stir. If we are unable to feel Moon, to notice her moods and offerings, then what else are we missing?

How attuned are we with the mice, the frogs, and the birds? Do we notice the native hare turning white in the way that we notice the leaves changing colour? Do we notice the shift from hearing singing robins to cawing blue jays? How often do we notice that the frogs have stopped serenading us and leaping about? These are ways that nature reminds us that change is constant. Yet, we seldom pause long enough to be with nature, let alone to pay attention to the implications of nature’s signals and reminders.

To me, understanding climate change is about reconnecting with ourselves. When I am in a constant state of doing, I disconnect from the earth. I run myself ragged with a constant state of busyness which begins to deplete my energy reserves. As my energy tank hits empty, I begin to push and berate myself for my lack of productivity. I begin to put eating and sleeping on the low-priority list, which perpetuates a cycle of distress, and leaves my body wide open for dis-ease.

The more dis-ease I feel, the poorer my choices become. I turn up less than a friend, a mother, a partner, and a community leader, and I become unavailable as a steward of the earth. When I lose my relationship with Earth, I lose my ability to heal. Healing with the earth is a relationship that requires presence—mine and Earth’s. When I am sick, so too are the plants and animals in my care. When I am well, I am supported by Earth’s rhythms and healing gifts.

Climate change, just like the moon’s cycles, is happening. You could debate whether climate change is a natural occurrence or man-made, but what you cannot deny, when you are one with the earth’s rhythms, is the feeling of a mother’s erratic heartbeat as she grieves, or the sight of seasonal changes in the plants and animals. And to see or feel these things, you must be present. Presence is impossible when you are in a constant state of motion. Presence requires slowing down and witnessing.

To find climate change is to learn the names of the 13 Moons, as spoken by Indigenous people in your area, and to witness the syrup run two weeks before its full moon or the blackberries ripen three weeks before their moon.

To find climate change is to notice, in your daily connection to the land, that the different black birds—crows, grackles, rusty blackbird, and redwing blackbird—have migrated 2 weeks earlier than usual.

To find climate change is to watch the frenetic pace at which mice and chipmunks forage, and the intensity of spiders eagerly trying to get indoors while it is still 30 degrees outdoors.

Change is constant, but if we have no awareness of what ‘constant’ even is—what it looks like and feels like—then we cannot possibly notice that it is change; therefore, making it easier to deny that we, as human beings, have any role in contributing to climate change or any need to help stop it. To be constantly unaware is like having a permission slip to ignore the aching heart of the earth. The price we pay is an aching in our own hearts. We are all connected, whether we want to be aware of the depth of our connection to each other or not. Where there are healthy people, there is a healthy natural environment. Regardless, the return to a healthy way of being must start with awareness—awareness of what is and what is not—and that can only happen when we reconnect to Earth’s rhythms of constant change.


By Tawny Stowe

(Photo Credit: Tawny Stowe)