At the end of last year my colleagues and family alike all shared the sentiment “I’m glad thís year is over! It was truly hectic”. I started to worry because I realised that it is actually the same thing we say to each other every year-end. It’s as if we rush through each year, rest for the week between Christmas and New Year and then we start all over again. And before we know it our lives are over and we say things like “What did I do with my life?” and “I wish I appreciated the little moments more”.
I know that mindfulness can help with this, but I wondered what else I can do to enjoy my moments here on earth. One of the solutions I came up with (I won’t bore you with all of them now) was to really notice and enjoy each season and not just always wish it was winter (my favourite season!).
IT STARTED WITH A VISION
I read Colin Beavan’s article The Change-Maker’s Guide To Using “Vision Cards” To Create The Life And World You Want where he suggests using handwritten cards on which you write down how you envision your future (but you write it in the present tense as if it has already been materialised) and then you read and visualise the card on a daily basis. Apparently what then happens is that your mind works on ways to steer you towards it.
It’s not the first time I was introduced to this technique. When I was in high school my father lent me a set of 20 VHS cassettes, a programme called “Investment in Excellence” by Lou Tice that works the same way.
One of my cards reads “I celebrate the SEASONS!” (I thought the exclamation mark would maybe speed up the process – and if you wondered what that little circle thingy on the card is, it is drawings of a branch as it goes through the seasons). Then it got me thinking (ah, these cards work!) when do the seasons actually start and end here in South Africa? When Minette and I visited Japan we saw that they have very well defined and pronounced seasons and they are very proud of their seasons. But in South Africa it seems that we have summer for nine months, spring and autumn each for about a day or two and winter is the remaining two-and-three-quater months.
“HAVE YOU HEARD OF A TEMPERATURE BLANKET?”
Minette and I were discussing this when she told me of a temperature blanket. It is basically a blanket you knit or crochet for a year, adding one row per day. The colour of the row for that day is dependent on the temperature of that day. They are typically very colourful and usually go from blue to yellow to red, back to yellow and again back to blue (people tend to start it in the winter…and finish it three and half years later). I liked the idea immediately but didn’t like that spring and autumn both end up looking the same.
THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAIL
Being very analytical I had ten million questions: How do I represent spring and autumn differently when their temperatures are so similar? Which colours truly represent each season? How many incremental colours do I use from cold to warm? From where to where do I go on the temperature scale? Do I use daily max or daily average (or daily max average)?
In order to differentiate between spring and autumn, Minette’s father (he’s an engineer) and I came up with the simple idea of using two different colour ranges. One range is used from winter to summer and the other from summer to winter (as shown above). Minette and her mother (she’s an artist) and her sister (she’s a yoga instructor – although that’s not relevant here) helped out with the colours.
Just as a side note, I decided that to celebrate the seasons also meant that I wanted to use a different colour range than what most people are using (summer for me is green, not red – and autumn should be maroon). I decided to use 100% cotton. The brand, MoYa, is local and hand-dyed to produce the most exquisite colours.
From the picture above you can see that I went with twelve colours in total (why twelve I now wonder…oh well, anyway).
DO YOU CROSS OVER ON WINTER- AND SUMMER SOLSTICE?
I haven’t actually said it yet, but I’m crocheting a blanket for my 3-year-old son and I am going to start, quite fittingly I thought, on 21 June 2018 (winter solstice). But are the solstices the best time to switch from my “spring range” to my “autumn range”?
Using 2016/2017’s weather data (2017/2018 was unfortunately incomplete) that I got from the National Climate Data Center, I played around with the dates to cross over (Minette suggested rather crossing over on 21 March and again on 21 September to make the blanket visually more balanced) and came up with the following results:
Minette’s suggestion is indeed more balanced, but my original aim was to highlight the seasons. After hours of playing around (it’s now exam time and I should actually be marking, but let’s face it, this is more fun) I decided that the best times to cross over from one range to the next were 1 February and 1 August.
SO WHICH COLOUR IS TODAY?
The weather data also showed that although the maximum, minimum and daily average temperatures for each day is different, the shape of the curve for the annual change in temperature for each is roughly the same. What it means is that you can use any one of the three, as long as you choose only one to follow for the year and you adapt your ranges according to one you choose.
This took a lot of playing around (I seriously have to get back to my marking!). I initially came up with temperature ranges, but comparing it to what I’m currently seeing on AccuWeather, I saw that because of Climate Change (I suspect) the current temperatures are almost 2 degrees warmer than that of 2016. Here is the guide that I’m going to use when I crochet the blanket:
And from 1 August to 31 January I’ll be using these:
Hopefully this blanket will help me to become more in tune with the seasons. For one, I’m looking forward to the 21st and I can’t wait for this year to start! I’ll try to keep you updated with how the blanket is coming along. And seeing that I did all the grunt work, if you are living in Pretoria and want to make one yourself, well then let me know how yours is going.