Seasonal hospitality

1 May 2008
It was cold here yesterday. Well, let me qualify that - it was cold for here. The highest temp was 19C (66F), and while I worked away at the Centre, I kept looking at the fireplace and imaging how warm and cosy it would be if it was blazing away with red hot logs. I have no idea how to make a fire in one of those stoves, or even if the fireplace there is safe, so I didn't advance beyond my warm and toasty fantasy. It's still fairly cold now at 17 C. I have my slippers on, a skirt, two jumpers and a vest. Now that I'm 'an older woman', I don't cope very well with extremes of temperature. And yes, I know 17C (62F) is not an extreme, but that probably proves my point.

I love change. I'm not at my best when things stay the same so when the temperature starts to cool down, and I see and feel the changes that brings, it soothes my black heart. There is a lot to be said for seasonal change.

One of the things I most enjoy about the different seasons and the changes they bring is the opportunity to extend hospitality according to the temperature. Nothings warms the spirit more than being offered a hot cup of tea or coffee with scones that send up puffs of steam when you open them. How good is it to come home to hot homemade soup sitting on the stove and just baked bread that lifts the neighbourhood just with the smell of it.

The same is true in the hot and humid months of summer. A glass of homemade lemon cordial, with rivers of condensation flowing down the glass and ice cubes happily clinking, makes any hot day a fine one. Greeting visitors with the hospitality of a cold drink is one of life's simple pleasures that I doubt I'll ever tire of.

But now we're in Autumn and with each day it gets a little bit colder. Warm quilts and flannel sheets are on the beds and the frequent salads of summer have given way to steamy bowls of soup, warm rice pudding and cooked spicy fruit - warm and delicious straight from the stove.

I haven't told you all yet what Hanno gave me for my birthday. It was a smallish quilt to be used when I'm sitting in the lounge room. One side is pure cotton tiny pink rosebuds on a very pale creamy yellow background, other side is pale creamy yellow fleece. I've used it a few times in the past week and unlike a completely cotton quilt, the fleece feels warm as soon as I cover myself with it. I feel like an old granny with it wrapped around my legs and when I draw it up around my chest, I swear I could melt for the way it warms me.

Simple pleasures come in all shapes and sizes, they usually cost little more than the effort it takes to make them happen and yet they are what memories are made of. I have wonderful memories of my sister and I sitting in front of a warm winter's fire in our flannel pyjamas while our mum tested our spelling. I remember fondly feeling very grown up and with it sitting at a table of adults when I was about 18 and being offered a glass of icy water along with the rest of the group. That water tasted like the finest wine to me.

There is a lot to be said about seasonal hospitality and our own ability to make our daily lives more comfortable with simple things. I know that I will live happily with my rosebud quilt for the rest of my life. If I'm lucky enough I'll lay my grandbabies on it one day and as they grow they'll learn, by example, about the value of these simple gestures.

You can bring anything to life by assigning meaning to it. What are the meaningful parts of your seasons? What makes you enjoy one season over all others? What are the things you're doing now that you know will be the memories of a lifetime?


  1. All things relative, in northern Canada we have enjoyed a "spring" day with white out conditions not to far from my home (two hours-ish away) and temperatures about 5 degrees C here. The upside is that summer is just around the corner and it's bound to get better. I do enjoy everything you have to say and look forward to your comments. thanks for all the advice

  2. On my computer desktop I have a clock and the temp here at our home in the UK and at my daughters home in Sydney. Yesterday, for the first time this year, the temperatures were equal. I was in the garden in a t-shirt enjoying the sun, while she was telling me of her new winter coat and sweater she had had to put on to go to work this morning.

    I also enjoy the changing seasons. I don't have a particular favourite, as each brings it's own special times. The new warmth of early spring and the lengthening evenings. The fresh crops of summer fruit and salad veg. The fresh cool of autunm days and walking in the woods, crunching leaves. Winter nights, lighting the open fire before teatime, snuggling down on a Sunday afternoon without feeling guilty that I should be doing something 'usefull'.

    I love your birthday gift Rhonda, much more than just a quilt but a maker of memories in it self.

    Have a good day.

    Pippa in Cornwall.

  3. It was cold yesterday. I was quite happy to leave my jacket on in the car while I waited for the children to finish school.

  4. Right now I have 500 seedlings under lights in Colorado, just starting to harden off outside during the day. I returned here last fall after twenty years in the Pacific Northwest, where the seasonal changes are relatively mild. The seasons here change with a vengeance, and I Love It! We go from fires inside to fires in the pit outdoors, from stews and roasts to grilling almost every night.

    I so enjoy your blog and now read it every day.


  5. I love all the seasons, though I can only take about 3 months of winter before I long for spring and summer! Autumn is one of my favorites. As for my kids I'm hoping that planting our first vegetable garden this year is the start of fond memories of growing and later, harvesting and preserving our own food.

  6. When I posted the link for the "chooks" article the other day I didn't realize there would be a whole series coming out. So here is the second installment just to let you all know there will be a series and I wont post any further. If you want to keep reading the series you can just check back at that blog. Cheers.

    The Suburban Farmer: Buying chickens

    "In the next installment of this series, I'll give you advice on the first things you should do when your baby chicks arrive, and common mistakes that first-timers make."

  7. I love the Autumn here in the UK, but would be grateful for any sign of warming weather at the moment - it still being very cold.
    As a child I have lots of fond memories of making toast in front of the coal fire on wintery Sunday afternoons.

  8. I love summer most, and always have. I was born in August so I guess I'm a summerbaby at heart! Here in Europe we have spring blossoming all around us, yesterday (the 30th) was our annual day of festivities called "Queensday". It's pure bliss for us thrifters, because everybody can sell stuff they don't want anywhere out on the streets. And for us frugal folks, it's so exciting picking through the stuff they leave behind at the end of the day! Queensday always marks the beginning of real spring for me.
    The memories my kids will treasure when they're grown, it's hard to tell. Of course it won't be the days we went to the zoo or amusement park that leave the biggest impression. Kids will always remember the simplest things (isn't that amazing, it just goes to show the best things in life are indeed free). Last year in summer, my daughter was standing on a concrete block staring at the sea. My husband came up to her and they both smiled and he picked her up. I was watching them from the parked car while nursing my son and it was such a beautiful sight and feeling it brought tears to my eyes. I'll never forget that moment!
    Yes, summer is definitely my favorite.
    Christine from the NL

  9. I love seasonal changes, so much in fact that I couldn't contemplate living in a climate that didn't experience the traditional seasons. I think I'd get depressed! In Canada we have very definitive seasons and though the line blurs as to when each season begins, (in the last 2 weeks we've gone from warm summer weather almost back into winter) the season once truly begun is truly it's own.

    However, I must say, Rhonda Jean, 19C, cold???? Come for a visit, how 'bout next Feburary ;)


  10. I love soups and stews in the colder months. And I love the beach and camping in the warm weather. The description of your lovely new quilt has inspired me to get my unfinished tops out of the cupboard and get a move on with them.

  11. I grew up in Bristol, England, and living in a city you don't appreciate the seasons except that the summer is bright with long, hot days, and winter is dark with short, cold days.

    When I moved to the countryside the seasons took on a whole new meaning, and to see the changes in nature through the seasons brings joy to my heart. Even winter is lovely, and when we are treated to a bit of snowfall its lovely to go out walking round the village, up to the duckpond and watch the ducks skating across the pond.

    Equally I love the hottest days when all you can do is lie on the grass in the garden drinking ice drinks and reading a good book. Such a warm, happy, contented feeling from that.

    Being born in July, I'm a real summerbaby too!



  12. It is cold here once again in Nebraska! Spring has been taking forever to get here! I guess we shouldn't get in too much of a hurry as the summer temps of over 100 with high humidity will be here soon! My husband and I have 100 trees and shrubs to plant out behind our house on the north edge of our farmstead: 25 Scotch pines, 25 Black Hills Spruce, 25 Amur maples, and 25 sandcherries. We need to get busy doing this as he will soon be busy farming -- planting corn and soybeans. Take care Rhonda!


  13. I love fall and winter, so I'm looking forward to getting through the summer, which doesn't even start for 7 weeks.

    I hope that my children and husband will always remember how I was often at the sewing machine sewing away happily. I think they will remember my cooking their favorites every day too.

  14. Hello Rhonda, well. like other readers, I'm having a chuckle about the temperatures! Here in WEst Cornwall it's around 12/13C - starting to feel some warmth in the sun, but still a chill in the air. Lots of locals already in shorts and no socks, but not me!! It'll be a while before I ditch my snug layers. I feel the cold, but also don't tolerate getting too hot. Bit contrary! My favourite seasons are spring - full of new possibilities, new growth in the garden, a time to start over, air and spring clean the house.....and then autumn, for nesting, for cosiness, and for the delight of long evenings in front of the fire, all wrapped up and snuggly, early nights, more sleep, a semi-hibernation into winter. I'm very happy to live in the uk, albeit the mild cornish climate. Seasons are a real delight, I love the change from one to the next. So many new possibilities!

    I love your quilt, too, perfect for snuggling under! Diana

    Ps - to Pippa in Cornwall - I'm wondering which part of our beautiful county you are in? I can't imagine being outside in only a t-shirt just yet....!!!

  15. Eating local or what is in garden I feel is a lost treat. I look forward to the seasons changing food - eg we have just finished eating our summer tomatoes - but plenty are bottled or frozen. Now we are having a feast of feijoas - tamarillos not far away & then Yams - when yams arrive we know winter is here.

    Love Leanne NZ

  16. We are in southern Texas so we don't see cold temperatures, but rather brisk, cool days. Cool, brisk days that I LOVE! I am a winter person at heart. I get all warm and peaceful as soon as fall hits hard and the heat goes away. Summer is setting in here and it is already hitting above 90F in the daytime. While I appreciate the beauty of spring, I'd still rather have my warm, cozy fleece jammies on, with both hands cuddling my big ole' coffee mug, watching the morning show wrapped in a fluffy blanket, or having hot tea with my son, whom I homeschool, at snack time. I also LOVE Christmas songs and since our's is in the deep of winter, that's what I relate the season to.
    I will be so jealous when I read your posts about your winter season and it's hitting over 115 degrees here and won't have seen a drop of rain for months! lol

  17. Isn't it funny, even living in the same country as you I think of 19 as warm instead of cold, especially if the sun's out. I do love the change of seasons here in the south; when it's winter you really know it's winter in Melbourne!

    Kate xxx


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