This week's word comes to us from the Middle English sesoun through the Old French seson and the Vulger Latin satio, meaning time of sowing or planting, all arising from the Latin serere, meaning to sow. Season shares its origins with the word seed, and both entities are concerned with fertility, fruitfulness and nourishment. The noun describes four divisions of the calender year as defined by designated differences in temperature, rainfall, daylight and the growth of vegetation: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
In earlier times, a season simply marked the interval within which an important hunting and/or agricultural activity was undertaken and completed i.e. the planting season, the harvest season, the hunting season, the dormant season. Each season is complete within itself whether viewed through the august lens of the calendar year or the loving eyes of a crone and her camera rambling in the Great Round. Each season is a cycle with its beginning (sowing), its center or middle (cultivation and nurturing) and its completion (harvest or reaping).
In much the same way, to season a broth or stew is to undertake a savory sowing of foodstuff with the seeds of taste and ambrosial fragrance. Be it the sowing, tending and reaping of one's vegetable garden or the careful addition of herbs and spices to a casserole, it's all about nurture and enjoyment.
On early morning August walks, yellowing maple leaves drift into our path, and they come to rest with soft whisperings on the wet ground at our feet. The sound is a pleasing susurrus that lingers long after we have rounded a corner and are turning toward home. Shallow puddles along our way hold the fallen leaves and their reflections in blithe fellowship with the blue sky and clouds mirrored from above. Whenever we pause, we are standing in boundless sky.
In a few weeks, September begins, and no doubt about it, autumn is not far away now. If you live in the north, the coming season is about apples, rain and falling leaves, and the words form a lovely rustling mantra (or litany) as we ramble in the village and through the Lanark highlands. It's all good. With sweet and spicy things we will season the autumn days to come.