Celebrate the Seasons 2019 | Personal Project

We celebrated the Winter Solstice on Friday - the shortest day of the year, but the also the start of the return of the light. Over the past few years, the darker months of the year have really started to affect my well-being. When I first moved to the east coast, I really enjoyed winters being as I didn’t grow up with them in California, but since having kids, the darker, colder days have kept me stuck inside a lot, which has led to growing sadness and anxiety surrounding winter.

Last year I began integrating little actions and elements into my daily life to try to combat this dread of winter. I thought about the concepts of growth and light and brought those into our home in the form of plants and flowers and a couple of fish. I started reading a lot about gardening and farming, and this past fall I joined a local CSA so that I could actually see the process of growing and harvesting food grown from scratch.

All of this has really helped. Remembering that growth and transformation is always happening, even in the darkest of days.

Earlier this year I stumbled over a book of photographs by Joel Meyerowitz called A Summer’s Day, that got me thinking about a seasonal photography project of my own. A few months later I picked up a couple of Tasha Tudor books - Around the Year and A Time To Keep, and her illustrations of each month’s unique characteristics and celebrations pushed me to think a little further out of the box than just a photography-based project.

Joel Meyerowitz's "A Summer's Day".
Tasha Tudor books.

I thought to myself, “What if I took on a project in 2019 that celebrated the seasons in a number of ways? Taking the time to stop and think about each month as it comes, and what makes it special? “

I started looking through all the books I had about the seasons of the year, and ordered a few more. I thought about the activities that I like to do, the types of activities that ground and calm me.

I did a little brainstorming, and came up with the following idea for my 2019 “Celebrate the Seasons” project.

I will celebrate each month by:
- documenting it in photographs
- one outdoor excursion, paying special attention to what changes are occurring in nature
- one craft or art piece that pertains to that time of the year
- reading one book that takes place at that time of the year
- making one recipe using ingredients in season
- creating (or practicing one that we already do) one tradition with my family that celebrates that month
- and possibly making one film about each month (this might be biting off more than I can chew, but the intention is there!)

I could not be more excited about this project! It’s all I’ve been thinking about since I came up with the idea.

Logan and I have been doing a lot of art journaling this year, so I ordered a couple of books about nature journaling. I hope to keep a journal documenting the project throughout the year, and I’ll also post about it monthly here.

Books about nature journaling.
Diary of an Edwardian Lady.

For the crafting portion, I am excited to pull out some of my knitting and sewing supplies again, and also explore things like wreath-making. I also joined the subscription club for Craftpod, a UK-based company, and I just received by winter box, which includes two adorable crafts - one cross-stitch and one little fox figure.

Winter box - Craftpod.

For the cooking portion, I am very inspired by our CSA share at Restoration Farm (we have a lot of root veggies that should get us through the next few months from our winter shares), and I was also given the recommendation of the book, Six Seasons, by a friend. I bought it a few weeks ago and its gorgeous! I am excited to explore some of the recipes in it.

Six Seasons book.
Making a trifle of blueberries and angel food cake.
Two children look at the fields at Restoration Farm.

I want to do some research on new (to us) walks and hikes that we can do in our area. One outing I have always wanted to do, is go to the beach in the snow!

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Have any of you taken on a seasonal project like this before? Since I have started talking about it, a lot of friends who homeschool have told me this sounds very much like a nature-based homeschooling curriculum. If any of you have books or craft recommendations, recipe recommendations, local places we should explore seasonally - please let me know!

Books inspiring my seasonal project.

Books inspiring my seasonal project.

I have tried (and failed) at integrating meditation into my life many times, but have found comfort and peace in being outside, in reading books (2018 has been my year of finally integrating reading back into my life), and in making art - through photography, journaling, painting and crafting. I am so looking forward to using this project as a daily meditation of sorts and hopefully finding some peace and reconnection with the parts of the year that I have come to be not so comfortable with.

I’d love to hear if you have any projects planned for this coming year, or if you have any suggestions for other inspiration I can look to for my seasonal project - leave a comment if you have any thoughts for me!


Francesca Russell is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker located in Garden City South, NY. If you'd like to see more of her recent documentary family photography, head over to her Facebook page or follow her everyday adventures on Instagram. If you are looking for a family photographer or lifestyle videographer on Long Island or in the New York City area to document your family, small business or event, please contact her for more information.