Living Slowly Through the Seasons
For the first of our holiday gift guides, an introduction to the Slow Living Library
The nights are drawing in, the air is crisp, and winter — bringing with it a certain holiday — is beckoning…
Yet as we witness nature slowing down, the pace of our own lives seems to increase as we reach the year’s end. Endless digital notifications, emails, social plans and deadlines seem to combine for one big season finale.
The Slow Living Library encourages us to consider a different pace. Not stopping, simply switching to a more analogue way of being (when we’re not in front of a computer). This allows for greater pause and reflection — both of value to our professional and personal lives.
So at this time of year, we can look to nature for a signal to slow down. Here’s some ideas on how to live more seasonally — and in doing so, become more grounded, connected, and creative.
With bonfire night just around the corner, now is the perfect time to gather around a campfire with friends and cook up an outdoor feast. Tom Herbert, fifth generation baker and author, shows us how in Do Wild Baking. From simple bakes such as ash-baked sourdough flatbreads and Snobrød cooked on a stick over the flames (perfect for kids!), to sweet treats like sourdough doughnuts and dark chocolate banana loaf cake, Tom’s book offers plenty of tips, advice and cracking ideas from building your first fire right through to the last loaves baked the glowing embers. And when the nights get too cold, or the weather takes a turn for the worse, many of the recipes can be made in the kitchen instead. But you won’t stay there, as you’ll be inspired to get back outside and reconnect with nature, food and people.
Winter is a time of giving and sharing. Whether you’re making the most of late-season berries or thinking ahead to the holidays, there’s nothing quite like a homemade jar of bramble jelly as a special Christmas gift, or a warming bowl of apple and ginger compote. Do Preserve, a guide by three cooks and great friends, is jam-packed (excuse the pun) full of ideas on how to capture seasonal produce at its best. Discover the unique preserving properties of salt, sugar, oil, vinegar and alcohol, and soon you’ll be topping up festive drinks with your own home-crafted cassis or plum liqueur, and making jams, pickles and chutneys for seasons to come.
What better New Year’s resolution than to finally learn how to bake bread? Andrew Whitley, author of Do Sourdough, simplifies the process of creating a sourdough starter — how to keep it alive and revive it when it’s looking a bit lacklustre (as we all do in January). Even those who feel they don’t have the time to bake bread because of a busy lifestyle are catered for: a whole chapter is devoted to suggested schedules for slotting the vital fermentation time into periods when you’re asleep or at work. Taking a warm, crusty, perfectly-risen loaf from the oven will definitely make cold winter days more bearable — and once you’ve started making your own, you’ll never look back.
Ask any gardener and they will tell you it’s never too soon to plan ahead for the spring growing season. Whether it’s your first time sowing seeds or you’ve already had some success, Alice Holden’s Do Grow provides essential advice to get you started and growing your own vegetables. Transform your back yard/window box/flower pot — or even your bathroom (perfect for tomatoes!) — and focus on a carefully selected group of crops that are rewarding and relatively easy. Fresh herbs for pesto, crisp lettuces and ripe tomatoes for salads — they all begin with tiny new shoots as spring arrives, and a little care and attention.
For the more adventurous, there are few more fulfilling ways to reconnect with the natural world than by keeping bees. Here is the ultimate project as the weather warms and flowers start to bloom. It’s a big undertaking, but thankfully Orren Fox keeps things do-able in Do Beekeeping. Learn how to set up your first hive, get suited and booted with the right attire, and understand the key elements to keeping the hive happy throughout the year. With patience and hard work you will, at the end of a late summer harvest, be rewarded with the taste of summer captured in a jar — beautifully sweet delicious honey. Just make sure to leave some for the bees!
Whether you’re looking to slow down, learn something new, or find the perfect Christmas gift, the Slow Living Library has a little something for everyone.
The Slow Living Library is available exclusively via the Do Books website. £40 for all five books: Do Wild Baking, Do Preserve, Do Sourdough, Do Grow and Do Beekeeping. All with colour photography and original artwork.
Illustrations for this Medium post © Hannah Cousins