Springing into Summer

Embracing Change

The winter solstice on December 21st marked the shortest day of the year, along with the official start of winter’s season. This particular day has the least amount of daylight hours of the entire year and signals the final descent of the northern hemisphere into darkness. But from then on, daylight begins to grow a little longer every day as we creep our way to the spring equinox in late March. Officially the first day of spring the equinox, like the solstice, marks a point of transition from one season to the next.

It seems Mother Nature has a gentle way of easing us through these transitions (though sometimes she does like to tease us). The changing from season to season isn’t usually obvious or abrupt but rather tends to be slow and subtle. That first day of spring is likely still quite cold, and perhaps even with snow still covering the ground in some places. But little by little, as we continue to travel through the cycle of seasons, the days gradually warm, and our daylight hours continue to lengthen. The ground begins to thaw, and eventually, the earth has its last winter freeze, giving way to fertile soil and the start of the growing season. And then, at last, we find ourselves amidst the sweet blossoming of spring!

While winter symbolizes endings, a time of stillness, and a going within, spring represents new beginnings, growth, and reemergence. 

And while winter might feel like a period when we’re frozen in time, spring is not a place that stands still.

Owner of The Green Pineapple, Jen at the window

Spring is a season of constant movement and growth when we can witness life blooming right before our eyes. As the season moves along from one day to the next, seeds sprout up from the ground and grow so quickly that we can practically watch the process happening! Trees are budding new leaves, and flowers begin to blossom. Time seems to move more swiftly as life emerges with renewed and abundant energy, and then before we know it, spring has turned to summer!

June 20th marks the summer solstice, the first official day of the new season. It’s that celebrated day of the year which has the most hours of sunlight. It’s a time that is longed for, cherished, and embraced. The days drag out long with early sunrises and late sunsets. It feels like we’ve finally reached the summit of the year, and it’s a place we’d like to linger.

For those of us who live in climates with four seasons, those seasons can differ quite drastically from each other. And though the transitions from one to the next tend to be gradual, the changes that come along can still sometimes be challenging to adapt to.

For instance, just as we got back into a routine after spring break, school let out for a lengthy summer vacation. It’s now light out much earlier, and stays light much later, which might disrupt our sleeping habits and cycles, or those of our children. The climate shifts from dry to humid, cool to hot, and dim to sunny with significantly more intense UV rays. For some, their bodies may begin to thrive, but for others, the higher heat and sun exposure can create imbalances. So although we might be looking forward to and welcoming the spirit of summer, our bodies may not always easily adjust to these seasonal differences.

Such weather changes also likely shift our eating habits, causing us to start craving lighter, more refreshing foods like fruits and salads over the heartier meals we’d grown accustomed to through the colder months. 

All this change can easily throw us off a bit, as people tend to be comfortable with routine, rely on predictability, and feel settled when life is in a rhythm. But as the saying goes, “The only constant in life is change.” 

And fortunately, there happens to be quite a beautiful and predictable rhythm to nature. So when faced with Mother Nature’s natural cycles and fluctuations, it can be helpful to learn to lean into and flow with the energy of these transitions and new seasons and embrace the changes that come along.

Each season has its energy, symbolism, and significance. Autumn is a time of balance between preservation, transformation, gratitude, and letting go. Winter, as mentioned, is a time of stillness, and a time of hibernation and going inward. It symbolizes endings and the final culmination of the year’s seasons. Spring brings renewed energy and represents reawakening, fresh starts, new beginnings, fertility, and growth. And summer blesses us with an abundance of prosperity and light, and is a time of heightened energy and adventure.

Woman drinking a latte

There are many ways we can connect, align with, and embrace the essence of summer. For example, if those early morning rays have you awake at the crack of dawn, it might just offer the perfect window for some extra self-care time. Perhaps it allows you the chance to linger in bed a little longer before starting your day. Lying there while listening to the birds chirping outside your window as they awaken can be very soothing and uplifting, and create a sense of joy. As opposed to a stressful rush of immediately jumping out of bed to get going first thing when you wake, this additional space and period of ease may also help set a calm and peaceful tone for the day.

For some, the earlier sunrise might provide an opportunity to get a little extra movement in before the day becomes busy and may inspire an early morning walk or run. Getting up and moving within the first few hours of the day can be quite energizing and have positive impacts. It’s been proven to help relieve stress, as this is a time of day when our body's cortisol levels tend to peak, making it an ideal time for us to burn it off rather than store it.

Another wonderful way to align your self-care with the new season is by tweaking your skincare regimen. Adding in products that have natural sun and UV protection, as well as those that help combat the effects of the sun’s stronger rays, is a beautiful way to give our bodies a little extra love and attention. Slathering hydrating lotions and creams onto our legs, arms, necks, and shoulders is not only beneficial for our skin but also calming and soothing to our senses.

With the sunlight hours now expanding so much into both ends of the day, in many places, this easily builds up a lot of extra heat. And those higher temps and increases in sun exposure tend to tire us out more quickly, perhaps causing the desire or need for a midday break. The term “siesta” which we’re all likely familiar with, actually translates and refers to an afternoon nap, which has been a common practice in many cultures for this very reason. Some might find it beneficial to take advantage of the longer days by sneaking in a midday siesta, which has been shown to revive energy and support cognitive function and memory throughout the rest of the day. As the sun's rays and the day’s temperature are typically at their highest around the noon hour, the middle of the day is an ideal time to take a break from the outdoors and cool off inside for a bit.

Now it probably goes without saying, but one of the most popular and enjoyable ways to embrace the spirit of summer and beat the heat is by cooling off at the lake or pool. Especially for those of us who don’t live in Florida, this is likely the biggest highlight of the season! Finally, the weather is warm enough for wearing swimsuits, lounging on beach towels, and digging our toes in the sand. Balancing summer’s heat with cooling activities such as swimming, is not only refreshing to the senses but also beneficial for our bodies and our minds. Many traditional and alternative medicine practices emphasize the importance of finding and maintaining balance within the physical and energetic bodies, and not building too much of any one type of energy, such as heat or fire. So not only is spending a day at the pool an enjoyable summer pastime, but it’s also a fun way to stay in balance during the sunny season.

That being said, the power of sweating it out is also highly beneficial, so don’t hesitate to let yourself work up a regular sweat as well. 

Sweating happens to be our body's natural way of cooling down, as its main function is to control our internal body temperature. But along with it, sweat carries out harmful toxins that build up in our systems, so it’s also an efficient and effective way to continually detox ourselves. 

And a fun fact, switching quickly between hot and cold actually has prime benefits such as reducing inflammation and strengthening our immune systems, so don’t be afraid to dive right into some icy cool water while you’re still wet with summer sweat!

Now it’s important to keep in mind that all that extra heat, sunshine, and sweating has a significant effect on our bodies, and can quickly and easily lead to dehydration. Interestingly, if you observe the common selections of summer produce, and tune into your summertime cravings, you’ll probably notice a similarity among them. Summer fruits and veggies tend to have higher water content, and be lighter and more refreshing than those of the fall. This is nature’s perfect way of providing just what we need, just when we need it! And as well, if we pay attention to our bodies' cues and cravings, we’ll find that it also have its own natural way of managing external factors and communicating its needs. Here, we can connect with the energy of summer by eating with the season and opting for what is local and most fresh. Some of the more hydrating summertime foods include cucumber, lettuce, watermelon, peaches, berries, tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash. In the tropics, mangos are falling off the trees by the dozens, and papayas are reaching their peak. Farmer’s markets and produce stands are beginning to pop up abundantly nationwide, so be sure to check them out for the best seasonal and local varieties of fruits and veggies! And if you don’t have the time to prepare seasonal produce with a meal, don’t forget you can always enjoy them as fresh juices. Our Wellness Cafe offers a variety of fresh juices along with juice cleanse and detox programs. These options not only nourish your body but also allow you to savor the fruits and vegetables of the season.

the green pineapple wellness cafe juice cleanse

Summer seems to be one of the more welcomed seasons as it’s a prime time for recreation and spending time outdoors. The weather is conducive to being out and about, making it easier to be physically and socially active. People eagerly gather for picnics, cookouts, camping trips, and sporting events. Children run and play together around their neighborhoods, and hiking and biking trails see an increase in traffic. And all the extra fresh air, physical movement, socialization, and enjoyment do wonders for both our minds and our bodies!

Of course, most of us still have commitments to our daily schedules and obligations, but summer seems to offer us easy opportunities to tweak our routines. For example, with more comfortable weather, perhaps eating lunch at a nearby park during your work break rather than staying in the office provides the chance for a calming intermission in your busy day. Sneaking in a few minutes between meetings to take a brisk walk can be quite refreshing and energizing, helping to get you through a midday slump. And with those later sunsets, evenings can be an ideal opportunity to take advantage of a little extra outdoor time. Taking the dog, joining a friend, or going solo, a walk at dusk is a wonderful way to unwind from the day! These precious moments can give us the chance to really slow down and be present and are a beautiful way to end a busy day. Summer’s long days of lingering sunlight seem to have a way of offering us more space and time, encouraging us to fill it with fun, leisure, and enjoyment. 

The spirit of summer is that of freedom, fiery passion, abundance, and joy. And though transitioning into this vibrant and wild energy can at first feel a bit untamed and unruly if we just lean in a little and align ourselves with the essence of the season, we can embrace and enjoy all of the pleasures summer has to offer.

For those living in or planning a visit to Key West, we invite you to embrace the new season at our Wellness Cafe. Enjoy our organic, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu items, and join us for our monthly First Friday events featuring live music and complimentary wine tastings. Make the most of the longer days and nights. Happy Summer Solstice!

first friday wine tasting at The Green Pineapple in Key West