I’m Madeleine, and I started The Seasoned Year because I think reconnecting to the cycle of the year is the key to living a fuller, richer, more wholehearted life.
The hard truth is we only have a certain number of seasons in our life time. That number is not as big as it can seem when we’re caught up in the minutiae of to-do lists and deadlines and the thick muddy stuff of life.
I don’t think paying attention to the natural world should be the preserve of environmentalists or scientists. I’m curious about botany and ecology; I’m passionate about preserving the world and living sustainably within it. But my connection with nature deepened when I stopped seeing it as a pageant laid on for me to take notes, and started experiencing myself as a part of it.
In order to become seasoned: to mature, ripen, or condition, we must first learn what the seasons we are living in have to teach us. I’d love to help you tap into the biggest picture of all: the landscape of the year, the wide horizon of each moment, the wisdom our cells are craving.
Find out more
If the idea of deepening your connection to the seasons calls to you, then leave your name and email below to sign up for free updates. I’ll write to you about twice a month with words and images from these hills, helping you tap into that spaciousness and freedom that’s always here; rooting you in the ever-changing, ever-unfolding constant of the changing year.
I grew up in London, seeking the untamed edges of the city wherever I could and one day, the call to something wilder wouldn’t go away. I left a fulfilling career in education to travel with my husband, Nick, by bicycle through Spain, Morrocco and Portugal. That six month stint marked the beginning of some serious soul-searching about our path in the world. We decided we couldn’t return to London and spent a few happy years in Cambridge figuring out what we did want to do, and then screwing up the courage to make it happen.
In 2014, we did it. Upped sticks to a tiny off-grid smallholding in Central Portugal, where we grow vegetables, make music (him) and write and write and write (me). Chickens, woodstove, compost toilet, solar-powered electricity… We’re about as far from the neon and pavements as we can get.
Turning my life upside down and taking that leap into the wild unknown is one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done.
How it all began
From the very start of the baking August we arrived in, I found myself suddenly and viscerally connected to the seasons of the year. A year after moving here I began to write monthly letters from the land to a small group of friends and family, as a way to observe and share more closely the shifts I saw around me. I wrote about the tall trees toppled in autumn, and the tiny shoots bursting through in spring.
Six months later I started seeing an acupuncturist, and learned about the 5 elements theory which links our bodies, minds and emotions to characteristics of each season. I compared it to the Celtic calendar and started to think about the seasons as represented in astrology, literature, art, and to reflect the toll our 365/24-7 digital lives take on us.
Gradually, a whole host of seemingly disconnected things fell into place. My love for seasonal eating; the ebb and flow of my emotions and moods. How I managed my business, my creativity and my health. The anxiety I’d experienced for years in the city lessened.
I began to see that there was a place for every mode of being in the cycle of the year, and that I could sink into one state trusting that it would pass when the next one was ready.
I learned to rest, and work, to create and let go, and to feel a certainty that these things were happening exactly as was right. Because outside my window, the trees and the birds, the sky and the river, were doing the same things. I watched, and wrote, and read, and the idea took hold of turning this into something to share with other people. And so, The Seasoned Year was planted, and now I’m watching it grow as proudly as I tend my tomatoes.