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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Folding in Religion

So we’ve finally made it to the last post in the “tutorial” portion of this series on how to go about setting up a region-specific calendar. We’ve gone over what sorts of information to gather for this process, how to determine your seasons and come up with a basic starting point for your calendar, and how to begin to create associations to help flesh out your holiday celebrations. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to fold in elements from pre-existing religious practices, concepts, and mythologies.

Now, even if you don’t have any religious elements that you want to incorporate into your calendar, I would still recommend browsing this post, because I feel that some of the information I’m going to discuss would still be applicable to anyone embarking in this process. And, as always, this post will be written largely from a Kemetic perspective because that is what I know in terms of religions and mythology. If anyone else ends up writing info pages on this from their religious perspective, let me know and I can link it here.

Deity Associations: A Starting Point

I think one of the easiest places to start this topic from is drawing direct natural associations between the elements in your calendar/region and your deities. It seems that most polytheistic religions have deities that are tied to the sun, tied to harvest, tied to water features; and so these deities could easily be incorporated into any local/seasonal aspects that correspond to their domain. For Kemetics, that means you could focus on Re during the summer, maybe Kephri during the spring, when the sun is more “new” and fresh, and perhaps Atum-Re for the fall as the sun becomes less prominent during the winter. You could also incorporate Aten during your solar season, if your location has one.

If you have a season that’s known for having an abundance of growth in terms of either plants or fauna, you may find that you could incorporate deities tied to fecundity or farming/agriculture. Whether you’re growing these plants that you can eat, or going and foraging for things to eat, you could invoke deities on either end of either process. Asking the gods for assistance with a good growing season or good luck with foraging, and then thanking them after you’ve brought in lots of good things to eat. Folding in additional aspects of what allows this growth to happen would be another way to create new groupings of deities that aren’t specific to antiquity.

This also applies to local fauna and flora. For example, if you’ve got geese that migrate through your area, perhaps you could incorporate Geb into celebrations that occur during that “season.” Hathor has associations with oaks, so incorporating her into acorn collecting or processing might be worth considering. Wenut is tied to rabbits, which often have their own roles in local ecology that could be played into. It seems that nearly every deity collects a bunch of associations with both plants and animals, and so those could be used pretty much the same way that the seasonal associations would work.

To create an example that incorporates the last two paragraphs, if you were going to do the acorn gathering above: you could fold in Osiris for his exudations that allow for excellent soil that fosters good growth, Re for his solar properties that allows the trees to grow, Shu for the air that brings the rains to the area where these trees grow, and Hathor for her association with acorns, perhaps overlapping her joy with the joy that acorns bring to your belly when properly processed.

Of course, there are some other more nuanced ways to align these associations. For example, we’ve got something called the Ironwood tree down here in AZ. It’s a keystone species, which means its already something of a sacred plant to begin with, but there are qualities of the tree that really remind me of my gods.

First is the use of the word “iron” in its name. This often comes from two aspects of the tree’s wood: its ashen color that is similar to iron in nature, and the fact that the wood is considered very hard and very durable. There are trees that have been dead for over a century, but their remains still dot the landscape due to the high poison content that is present within the wood. Literally, the poison is what makes the wood last forever.

Second is that this tree is vital to the survival of many plants and animals throughout the desert. Each tree is said to support and play a role in the survival of over 500 other species in the desert. This tree is both a survivor and a source of sustenance. To me, this tree is a culmination of both Setian and Osirian properties. The iron associations, the ability to survive even better than other desert plants during the harshest conditions, and the use of literal poison to create a means of existing indefinitely all seem like Setian traits. The fact that the tree is responsible for the survival of many species during the worst parts of the year in AZ, the sustenance that it provides for the desert, plus its capacity to endure for literal centuries after death all feel very Osirian in nature.

What I’m trying to get at is that your associations needn’t be super direct to be applicable. Always be willing to dig deeper to find your gods in places you wouldn’t expect. There are lots of ways to see our gods in the world around us, and the more we learn about the plants and fauna that live around us, the easier it becomes to find our deities in our local area.

Once you’ve found an association that resonates with you, you could then find ways to weave it into any current practices you have. For example, I could potentially do rites for Set or Osiris under or around one of our local Ironwoods. I could also reverse that and involve Set or Osiris in any celebrations centered around Ironwood trees. Or perhaps I could find a piece of wood or seed pods to offer to the deities in question. It would also make sense to utilize the seeds as part of a food offering as well. In this way, I would be bringing a small part of where I live to each ritual that I do, thereby closing the gap between the traditional location-based practices and my local area.

Religious Symbols and Concepts

Pretty much every religious tradition has symbols, themes, and concepts that infiltrate the mythology and living practices of anyone who participates in the religion. For Kemetics, we’ve got ma’at and isfet, we’ve got trees that give life, benben mounds that herald transformation and birth, just to name a few. When you’re trying to fold your religion into your calendar, I feel that using these symbols and concepts is a good way to begin to bridge the gap.

Solar Bathing

Something that seems to have been done with some regularity in antiquity is the idea of bathing icons in sunlight. In some locations, this can be done almost anytime of the year (like Egypt,) but for those who live in places where the sun isn’t constantly visible, it may be worthwhile to pay special attention during the solar season that is present within your region. During this time, it may be beneficial to plan to take any important amulets, icons, or other religious paraphernalia outside where it can soak up some rays.

Rejuvenation and Rebirth

There were many parts of the natural world that the ancient Egyptians decided to embody in their religious symbolism in the form of rejuvenation and rebirth. There were flowers that rose and fell with the sun, blooming once the rays hit the water; that were incorporated into the mythology surrounding Nefertem, and by extension, Re. Re, of course, living a non-stop cycle of rebirth and rejuvenation that is embodied by the sun. There is also the annual cycling of the river that sustained ancient Egypt, often embodied in the mythology surrounding Osiris (at least by the later periods of Egyptian history,) and to a lesser degree, involves aspects of Sekhmet, as plague was more likely to set in when the river was running low (or completely gone.)

Most of us will have our own examples of plants that rise and set with the sun, of animals that come out to greet the sun, of plants that die back during one season only to be rejuvenated once the weather shifts later in the year. Looking for these examples in the world around us, and then seeing where they might dovetail nicely with our pre-existing stories regarding this theme will allow us to see our gods in our immediate surroundings, and provides opportunities to find new ways to celebrate the rebirth that is occurring.

Battling Isfet, Instilling Ma’at

For Kemetics, one of the biggest directives in our religion is to maintain ma’at and get rid of isfet. And if there is one thing that we could do that would help our local ecology (and therefore ma’at) probably more than anything else, its by pushing back invasive species. In a sort of juxtaposition against keystone species, invasive species are plants and fauna that actively destroy and degrade a particular ecosystem. These are usually species that existed in balance within a given ecological system, but were moved into a foreign space that they then began to take over.

Most places try to have “round ups” where people will gather and work to pull out and remove invasive plants that occur at specific times in the year (timed to the cycles of the species that are being removed, usually.) For those of us who are interested in this work, it wouldn’t be hard to create an annual holiday where you go out and join these groups of people to help push back isfet (by removing the invasive species) and help restore ma’at (because you’ll usually replace what you removed with new plants or new seeds.)

And if invasive species are not your thing, there is always trash collecting and cleaning that occurs in many places across the globe. Another way of instilling ma’at would be to learn restorative gardening and land-keeping practices, this is particularly if you happen to own or oversee any property. That way you can make sure you’re not accidentally adding to isfet by mismanaging what happens to the land that you live on.

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but I hope that it gives you something of an idea of how you can begin to bring your local areas and your pre-existing religious practices closer without being appropriative. In the final post of this series, I will go over some of the holidays that I’ve created for my area, and how I’m starting to work on folding religious practices into my calendar.

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Developing Associations and Themes

So while we have the backbone of our calendar that was generated in the last post, you’ll note that many of these holidays lack any real direction for how to exactly celebrate them or participate in the natural shifts around you. This post and the next are here to help you flesh out your calendar by exploring ideas, themes, and associations you can link up with your holidays.

The backbone we made in the last post is meant to give you a basic framework to build around. From here, we’re going to utilize all of the information we still haven’t touched from the first post to refine what the yearly cycle in your area really looks like to you. It’s one thing to know when your summer starts and ends, or how much snow you get in the winter, but its another to know how these seasons actually play out where you live. Ideally, we will want to incorporate these elements into our yearly celebrations so that we’re genuinely connecting with the region we live in — not just a cardboard cutout that is generalized for ease of use.

Meeting Your Neighbors: Local Landforms

One of the first areas I wanted to start our layering process with is the concept of landforms. Landforms is a pretty generic term that encompasses pretty much every geological feature you’ve ever seen. This includes mountains, rock formations, lakes, valleys, etc. Taking stock of the landforms around you is essentially taking stock of the topography in which you live. Do you happen to live in a valley? on the edge of a valley? Are there any mountains nearby? Do you have any rivers or lakes that influence your area? What does the land look like where you live?

There are a couple of reasons why having this information can be useful, and which of these reasons applies to you will depend on what is most important to your individual practice.

Landforms Define Your Local Weather

First is that your local weather will be heavily influenced by the landforms closest to you. To use an example that is close to my heart, Phoenix, AZ is in the bottom of a valley that lies at the base of the Colorado Plateau. You’d think that since I’m an hour from Phoenix that my weather would be the exact same, but that’s not entirely true. I live on the southern ridge of this valley, on the north face of a series of small mountains. These mountainous landforms change the weather for me pretty dramatically. Being 600 feet higher in elevation means that my temperatures are often a few degrees cooler than Phoenix, and are about 5 degrees cooler than the closest town that is at the base of the mountains, about 20 minutes away.

Which is to say that looking at your local landforms will help to give you a better idea of how the weather works specifically where you’re at. Most of the weather information that you can pull will be from city centers and airports, and not all of us live in those specific locations where the weather data is pulled from. In order to tailor-fit your calendar, it’s best to observe whether landforms could be playing a role in your weather, and how that effects your yearly calendar.

Also keep in mind that man-made objects can also alter your weather, and if these structures are benefiting your weather patterns and systems, they may be worth incorporating into your calendar.

Landforms as Foci of Veneration

The second role that landforms can play in your calendar is to be a focus of veneration or adoration. For example, the mountain range that exists directly to the west and south of where I live often protects us from the worst monsoon storms. I have lived on both sides of what I call the “south ridge,” and I can attest that living south of this ridge means that your power will go out a lot more, and you’re more likely to have your house destroyed from the harsh weather that comes at us from across the dry river bed.

Knowing this means that I could always give thanks and attention to these mountains as we go into the monsoon season. Perhaps acknowledging that these mountains deflect the worst from us, and provide us with some amount of protection and stability in an inherently unstable season.

As another example, if you live near a large body of water, you may find that this body of water keeps your climate more temperate, as large lakes and oceans tend to take the edge off of the hottest and coldest parts of the year. Maybe you really love that your summer is nice and balmy, and would want to give thanks to this body of water for making that happen. This could involve having your celebrations at this body of water, or perhaps engaging in more direct action to protect or preserve it (whether through community action or volunteering to clean up the area, etc.)

From another angle, you may have learned that this large body of water serves as the main source of water for your local area. Knowing this, you may choose to incorporate this vital landform into your holidays, perhaps even creating a holiday that acknowledges your reliance on this water source existing. Some places where this might make sense would be in the springtime, as the snowpack begins to melt and begins to fill all of the waterways below, or to honor it during the summer, when your water supply is likely to be the most taxed for survival.

Nesting Local Ecology into Global Patterns

As you could potentially tell after reading about landforms, it becomes really easy to continue to shift the scope of your weather into a larger and bigger scale. The mountains that protect me come in contact with storm systems that are generated from the equator, and suddenly I’m looking at weather that’s happening in parts of the world I’ve never seen. To me, it helps to be able to place my local weather phenomena onto a larger scale to be able to see where my weather actually comes from, and by extension, to better understand what’s going on when my weather doesn’t behave as it normally does.

To use an example that’s familiar to some of my readership, in ancient Egypt, they knew that the inundation of the Nile was vital to their existence, but they didn’t have a full and solid understanding as to where that water actually came from. They believed it to bubble up out from the Duat in a cavern at the base of the river, but in truth, the answer is a lot more complicated and involves monsoon storms and snow packs in other parts of the continent. So in their frame of reference, you would cajole the deities that oversaw those caverns to ensure that you got enough water for the year. Where as under this model, you might cajole the monsoon rains to fall and the winter storms to bring a decent amount of snow so that there would be enough to fill your river later on.

This is also why I had you look into watershed maps. These maps will inform where your water comes from, and where you should focus your intent if you want to help ensure an appropriate amount of water comes to your area. For example, if you live somewhere whose water source relies on an aquifer being filled by a snow pack in a mountain range a few counties north of you, then it may be worth considering creating some sort of holiday that honors the role these mountains play in your survival.

Creating Associations

Part of fleshing out your calendar is having the ability to make associations between your holidays and the world around you. In this section, we’ll talk about a few ways to develop various associations in your area.

Seasonal Markers

Anything that helps to bring you to a particular time within the year would fall under this category. Put another way, these are the things that help you to notice that something is shifting around you. Usually, this would be seasonal shifts and changes, but it could also encompass other natural phenomena. Some examples of what these could be are:

  • the first flowers that pop up in spring
  • a particular type of wind that indicates that snow is coming
  • migratory animals that are only in your region for brief periods of time throughout a given year
  • the most-available natively-grown food item during your region’s “dead period” (most of you know it as winter)
  • the first things that are edible in spring, or after the “dead period”
  • the first leaves that change color during the fall

If you see it, and it lets you know that stuff around you is changing, it belongs in this category.

You could utilize these markers with the seasons they are associated with. For example, if you’re celebrating the beginning of a season, it might make sense to utilize the things that let you know this season is beginning in your holiday goings on.

Sustainers

The sustainer category is made up of anything that essentially helps to sustain your ecosystem in a particularly large way. These are essentially the keystone species that exist within your area, and would include both fauna and flora. This could also include landforms and larger ecological systems that help maintain the characteristics of your region such as a large reservoir that maintains the potable water for your area, or a particular forest that brings your seasonal rains down to where you live, or even a large tree that shades your porch in the summer.

In many ways, I would argue that this category would qualify as a sort of means of figuring out what is sacred in an area. Keystone species in particular leave a huge impact on the environment around them, so much that they are often used to gauge how healthy an ecological system is. When keystone species are removed from an ecosystem, the ecosystem is almost guaranteed to degrade and suffer until the balance is restored. As such, these species are worth protecting as much as possible, and to me, deserve sacred status where they natively occur.

Given that these species help to maintain the ecology of your region, I would argue that these species (or representations thereof, or potentially things associated with them) could be utilized in any holiday at any season. However, I also think there could be some potency in celebrating certain key times in the life cycle of the species within this category. For example, if there is a tree that is a keystone species, and it bears fruit, it might be worth celebrating when the fruit comes into season.

The Power of Observation

As a final note, we always say in permaculture that the most important skill that you can have is the skill of observation. Every year, I observe my surroundings, and every year, I discover new things. I notice new patterns that emerge, new ideas for holidays, new plant associations that form. By watching the world around you, and taking note of what you experience and when, you open up the possibility to incorporate an ever growing number of associations for your calendar.

For me, the calendar is about actively choosing to participate in the world around me. Sometimes, this means big displays of celebration or ritual. But sometimes, its nothing more than baring witness to what is going on around me. Not everything needs to be elaborate or large, and just by observing and paying attention, you are still participating in the natural patterns that occur around you. When we are not sure, or are lost on how to proceed, observation should be our fallback tool for coming up with new ideas and inspiration.

Hopefully this post has helped you to start thinking about ways you can begin to flesh out meaning and associations with your local natural settings. In the next post, we’ll discuss some ways in which religious practices can begin to be incorporated to your calendar.

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Creating the Backbone

In my last post, I discussed the various pieces of information that might be useful for creating a region-specific calendar based off of your local ecology. In this post, we’re going to take all of that information and begin to extract the beginnings of a calendar that we can then work with.

How to Utilize Your Weather Info

Your weather information will provide you the backbone of your calendar. Analyzing the information should give you a general idea of what weather happens when in your region. And generally speaking, when weather happens, you have holidays.

The most important thing to get out of all of your weather information is a solid understanding of how your local weather works, and by extension, when your seasons actually occur. Don’t be afraid to move away from our standard, wrote ideas of the standard four seasons that are exactly the same length of time every year. In my experience, there are a lot of small shifts and changes that occur in every region throughout the yearly cycle, and to me, it feels worth honoring these changes as they occur, which might lead you away from a basic four equinoxes and four solstices.

To get this started, I’m going to show you some charts of the weather in Pueblo, CO (a place I chose at random) to illustrate how to parse information out and translate it into holidays or seasons.

In the chart above, you can see that the hottest parts of the year start around June 2, and wind down around Sept 13. You could make this your summer, with a celebration of the average hottest day of the year on July 8. If you wanted, you could also add in another holiday to celebrate the middle of the summer season, which would be around July 22. Your winter season generally starts on November 20 and ends around Feb 24, with the coldest day being on Dec 29. Just like with summer, you could also add in a holiday celebrating the middle of the season if you felt the need. That would then leave your spring to potentially be from Feb 24 to June 2, and your fall to be from Sept 13 to November 20.

To summarize, you now have the following dates/holidays of note for this region so far:

  • June 2: spring end, summer start
  • July 8: hottest day of the year
  • July 22: summer midpoint
  • Sept 13: summer end, fall start
  • Oct 17: fall midpoint
  • November 20: fall end, winter start
  • Dec 29: coldest day of the year
  • Jan 6: winter midpoint
  • Feb 24: winter end, spring begin
  • April 12: spring midpoint

You can use solar maps to determine when you have the most and least amounts of sunlight within a given year, which can be useful for people who happen to have interest in “light and dark” juxtaposition, or have solar-related practices/deities. Now despite the summer being from early June to mid-Sept, the solar map below shows that your sunniest time of the year in Pueblo actually begins on April 29 and ends on July 31. This often occurs out of sync with summer due to cloud cover. So this is less about how much your region of the world is exposed to the sun, but more about how much of that solar energy actually makes it to the ground.

So in this situation, you could create an entire “solar season” that has its own reoccurring rites, or you could potentially just have a singular holiday on June 10, which typically has the most sun out of the year. The same goes for the darkest parts of the year — you could have a season that exists from Nov 3 to Feb 10, and you could have a singular holiday on the darkest day of the year: Dec 20. I will expand on these ideas more in the “Adding Layers” and “Folding in Religion” posts.

Another two seasons to consider adding to your calendar are your rainy and snowy season (if applicable.)

You can see that the full rainy season for Pueblo runs March 16 to October 16, with two peaks in between. Depending on what is most important to you, you could have a holiday at the beginning and/or end of the season, and you could have two days of note for each of the peaks that exist within the rainy season. Since the rain appears to die back at the start of summer, it might also be worth making a nod to the reduced rain in your summer holiday setup.

Snowfall in Pueblo seems to run from October to May, but you could start and end the season at the 0.1″ mark as this website did, which would make the dates December 10 to Feb 15. You also could consider creating an impromptu celebration each year for the first day that it snows, regardless of your yearly averages.

 

And while I’m not sure if someone in Pueblo cares too much about the wind, the windy season for this part of the world runs from November to June. Down in Arizona, the shifting trade winds dictate a lot about how our weather is running, and often marks the changing of the seasons. So for me, wind patterns play a significant role. However, you may find through observation that the winds don’t seem to correlate to anything where you live, and may choose to omit this information.

So after having done this basic analysis, you get the following basic holiday/seasonal structure for Pueblo:

  • April 29: solar season begin
  • May/June: snow disappears (floating holiday)
  • June 2: summer start
  • June 10: brightest day of the year
  • July 8: hottest day of the year
  • July 22: summer midpoint
  • July 31: solar season end
  • Sept 13: summer end, fall start
  • Oct: first day of snow (floating holiday)
  • Oct 16: rainy season end
  • Oct 17: fall midpoint
  • Nov 3: dark season begin
  • November 20: fall end, winter start
  • Dec 10: snow season begin (Alt: Oct 1)
  • Dec 20: darkest day of the year
  • Dec 29: coldest day of the year
  • Jan 6: winter midpoint
  • Feb 15: snow season end (Alt: May 1)
  • Feb 24: winter end, spring begin
  • March 16: rainy season begin
  • April 12: spring midpoint

Of course, you don’t have to utilize every single holiday listed. You could easily just pick a handful to start with, and work your way from there. But if nothing else, this should allow you to see how you can extrapolate any number of natural events that occur seasonally within your region — and then make holidays out of them. Now, these holidays have very little character or specifics to them, and that can be challenging to work with. In the next post, we’ll go over some ways to flesh these holidays out by using other local information that we gathered in step one.

Related Posts:

 

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Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Gathering Information

I think one of the hardest parts of creating your own sort of local cultus is that it can be challenging to figure out how to do things without being appropriative. Most of us are living on lands that were stolen from indigenous people who had their own traditions, religions, and ways of relating to the land/world around them. To cherry-pick and take elements of their traditions as an outsider is an act of violence and theft, and so many of us are left wondering what options might be open to us.

In many instances, people will often look to their own religious traditions for inspiration, but the truth of the matter is that most of us are pulling from traditions that were centered somewhere else. For example, as a Kemetic, I would be pulling from a very specific area in the world with very specific weather patterns and cultural ways of existing in a region. Egypt was known to have a three-season cycle that centered heavily upon the rising and falling of the Nile, because the Nile was really what allowed them to survive how and where they did. And while the three-season model is close to what we have in Arizona, it’s certainly not what most people living in the US have to work with. Which is to say that most of these traditions don’t line up with our daily experience because they’re not tied to our specific region where we live. You know, the region that had its own culture that was forcefully removed so we could be here.

At the end of the day, most of us are still left going “how on earth can I connect the dots between where I live, and my religious practice?”

This series is aimed to help connect those dots — without being appropriative.

Direction; Expectations; What are we even making?

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of how to create this connection, I wanted to first lay some groundwork down that will hopefully help you get the most out of this.

First off, I am attempting to show you a way to gather information about your local region, and utilize that information to create holidays and rituals that form a sort of yearly calendar. At least initially, all of the posts in this series will be very generic in nature, and should be applicable to nearly any religious practice/practitioner. As things progress, if there is any interest in it, I can create more posts that show specific examples of what I’m doing with my local region, as well as how you can tie specific Kemetic ideas to the concepts laid out in this series. So regardless of your religious practice or preference: this should still be useful to you if you’re wanting to create a custom calendar.

This calendar will essentially be used to help you celebrate and participate in the natural, cyclical phenomena that occur where you live. This can also be expanded to encompass local fauna, landforms, and other natural features that exist around you which help to create the natural rhythms that make up the characteristics of your region. This includes suggestions for how to determine what might be considered sacred in your area. I also feel that you could utilize this as a baseline to fold in mythology and deities that exist within the religious structures that many of us are already participating in — hopefully in a way that respects the fact that we’re living on stolen land.

Second, I wanted to set the expectation that this sort of thing is not created in a day. Every year my understanding and knowledge about the region I live in is enriched and expanded. As you get more adept at seeing the patterns and cycles at play within the natural world around you, the more subtle stuff you’ll be able to pick up on, and the more you can branch out your holiday/ritual setup. Your first yearly calendar may only have a few holidays, but as time goes on, you may see other places where you could do more or try new things. This is normal and its fine if it takes a while to get the hang of it. Don’t be afraid to start simple and make it more complex as time progresses.

And finally, if you end up using this information to create your own calendars and rituals based off of your region, please let me know. I’d love for this to be a collaborative effort where we can all build off of each other and create a lot of different ways of celebrating our local regions. Ultimately, if there is enough content, I’ll create a sort of index of posts so that others can view them.

Here is the general outline of how these posts will flow:

Step One: Gathering Information

For me, the first step to creating a local calendar is to gather a whole lot of information about where you live. What kinds of information? Well nothing is technically off limits, but for the sake of ease, I’m going to break this down into two categories: weather patterns, and local plants and fauna.

Weather

So let’s start with weather. I feel like many people will say that this sounds stupidly obvious. Obvious in the sense of “We have four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall; and they occur at these times of the year. Done!”

But I urge you to dig a little bit deeper than that.

Weather patterns are often way more nuanced and vary across different regions. To give you an example, almost every part of Arizona has something of a three-season cycle, but the specifics of the cycles are still very different depending on where you live. There is a city about two hours south of me called Tucson, and while they have the exact same seasons as Phoenix (where I live,) the specifics of our seasons are super different. Tucson is a lot less hot than us, they get way more rain, you can grow way more in the summer there, and their winters tend to be colder than ours. The only real difference between us is our elevation, and yet our wind patterns and rain patterns are quite different. The more local you can get, the better your results will be.

When examining weather patterns, here is a short list of things I recommend learning about:

  • Temperature patterns: what are you hottest and coldest days/times of the year? At what times throughout the year do your temperatures start to shift?
  • Wind patterns: what direction do storms come from? How about pressure systems?
  • Rain patterns: do you have a rainy or snowy season? When is it? Does your rain or snow typically come from a particular direction or location?
  • Watersheds: how does your local area receive its potable water? Is it from rain sources, or an aquifer? Are there local rivers or other water sources worth honoring or protecting?
  • Global weather patterns: how does your local weather fit into the larger scale of global trade winds and patterns? This is useful for figuring out what is necessary to make the weather happen where you live. It will also highlight how climate change could be changing your weather.

There are lots of places you can look to learn about your weather patterns, but it can sometimes be tricky to find information. My absolute favorite is WeatherSpark.com, because it has really nice graphs. I generally find that Wunderground.com, BestPlaces.net and USClimateData.com are also good places to start, but I don’t know how well these websites will work for non-US locations. So just in case its helpful, here are some key words and phrases I often use:

  • [zip code] weather patterns
  • [zip code] weather history
  • [zip code] annual rainfall
  • [zip code] weather averages
  • [state/province] watershed map
  • [state/province] water resources

A lot of the websites you access will give you daily and weekly weather forecasts, and you can usually find “history” or “annual” tabs within these websites in order to see the bigger picture of how your weather pans out over a year.

Plants and Fauna

When it comes to plants and fauna, these are the sorts of things that I would recommend looking into:

  • Planting patterns: when do you typically plant and harvest where you live? Do you have one big growing season, or multiple smaller growing seasons?
  • Eating patterns: which of your native plants is edible, and could be reintroduced into the diet today? What are the growing and harvesting times for these plants? Are there specialty foods related to your specific region?
  • Natives: what are some of the plants or fauna that are native to the area? Which of these are keystone species? Are any of them endangered?
  • Invasives: are there invasive plant species in your area? how about invasive animals?
  • Local ecosystems and landforms: are there any forests, landforms, or other habitats nearby? Do these habitats (forests, deserts, etc.) influence your local fauna or weather?

Some search terms you could use to look up some of this information:

  • USDA Hardiness Zone [zip code] (I don’t know if non-US places have an equivalent)
  • [state/province] invasive plant species
  • [state/province] native plants, native edible plants
  • [county name] extension office, extension resources
  • [county name] growing calendar

Of course, gathering this information is only part of the solution. You have to figure out what to do with the information that you’ve gathered — which we will cover in the next post (because this post is pretty long as it is).

 

 

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