Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Goodbye light, hello dark

We had a late celebration to see in the dark part of the year at the family orchard in Gloucestershire - a few days after Samhain, but who cares, it was our way of celebrating what we have and to give thanks to what we have lost.

I guess the influence of the modern world has had an effect on many customs that until fairly recently were celebrated by many country folk. They are still celebrated, but many with a twist - pumpkins are now used as lanterns instead of a turnip, children no longer perform a traditional song or dance at Halloween, a shout of trick or treat is enough for a gift which is expected. Coal dust on the face to help blend with the spirits has now been replaced by bright and ghoulish fancy dress. At this time of year I also look forward to the Mummers plays around Christmas and the Twelfth Night wassail. 

The apple is always associated with this time of year for me - the annual harvest of Ashmead's Kernel would take place in early November and these delicious dessert apples would see us through the dark days.

This year the crop has been dire - all varieties have suffered. The seasons have been completely arse about face, we drove through snow as we dropped back down into Dorset and on our way north we were lucky enough to see the finest rainbows ever. Those apples we did harvest will keep us going for a short time at least. We spotted one lone apple blossom - It drew our eyes to it like a beacon and was taken as a good sign for the months ahead. 

We built a fire using apple wood, made a den, harvested apples, lit fireworks, ate and drank before the heavens opened. We had time to stare into the dying embers away with our thoughts and look forward to the winter ahead.  

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