Green shoots

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With the Vernal Equinox just passed, the season of Spring has arrived and we now know for certain that light has prevailed over the darkness. What joy! With days now longer than nights, despite what the weather is doing, Spring brings us life and growth. Nature is bursting forth with buds, blossom, Spring flowers and green shoots, the kind of green only around in Spring, so fresh and new.

After the dark months of Winter, these little green shoots are real beacons of hope and promise. There has been a shift and it is time for new beginnings. The seeds …

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The simplicity of Winter

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I recently came across this quote by John Burroughs: "The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of nature, after such a career of splendour and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost either upon the head or the heart. It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread." It resonated with me deeply and inspired this blog post, the first of 2021.

This time of year is a quiet time for me on the smallholding. Nature in deep Winter is asleep …

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Peak darkness at the Winter Solstice

For us in the northern hemisphere, since the Summer Solstice in June, the Sun has been on a waning trajectory, resulting in days gradually getting shorter and nights longer. Today, on the Winter Solstice, our journey through the darkness reaches its peak, the sun at its lowest point before beginning its new ascent towards peak light. Peak darkness is the time when we begin to ask “How much longer are these dark days going to last?” and even wonder if the darkness will continue forever. Of course, we know in our heads that the light will return, but our hearts …

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Calan Gaeaf Hapus!

Tonight is Noson Galan Gaeaf in Wales. This translates from the Welsh as Winter's Eve: Nos(on) is the night (before), Calan (or Galan when the spelling of the word has a mutation applied to it) means the first day and Gaeaf is Winter. It originates from the ancient celtic festival of Samhain, celebrating the end of autumn and harvest season and the beginning of Winter.

If we divide the year into light and dark, we are now about to enter the darkest segment, between Samhain and the Winter Solstice, when the light returns to us once more. For me, this …

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Restoring balance at the Equinox

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This afternoon, at 2.31 pm, the Sun crosses the celestial equator (or the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's Equator) from South to North and the Autumn Equinox will occur. At that particular point, days and nights are of equal length, a moment of balance between light and dark, a threshold between two seasons.

As I write this, the scene on our patch of Welsh countryside is typical of Mabon time. Looking out, the landscape is still mainly green with only a few dots of autumnal yellows and oranges here and there and the blue sky continues the …

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And the robin sings again

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It's still another two weeks till the official start of Autumn at the Equinox yet there are plenty of signs that Summer has retreated and Autumn is settling in. There is a chill in the air, the colours of the landscape are changing and nuts and berries are abundant in the hedgerow. But there is something else that heralds the new season: the robins are back singing their Autumn song.

During Summer, robins are conspicuous by their absence, so much so that they seem to disappear. Of course, that's not true as they don't migrate (most don't anyway) but they …

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And just like that, Autumn has arrived!

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Oh dear, once again, I notice the date on our last blog post is three months ago!! How time flies!

Autumn is well and truly here on the smallholding now and we begin to look to Winter, putting some things to bed and giving in to homely and cosy vibes of scented candles and warming fires.

The harvest is largely in now with apples and tomatoes in crates ready to be processed. Apples will keep for a bit longer, cooking with them as we need. I have been making jams and chutneys with the green tomatoes whilst the red ones …

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Summer Solstice sunrise on a Welsh hill

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Before moving to Wales, we lived in Salisbury for 15 years and never once did we go to the Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge a few miles away. We probably missed out... Stonehenge at the Solstice is a big event. There were things like family life and work commitments that meant we never joined in the all-night / early morning festivities. In any case, crowds are not really our cup of tea.

Last night, tempted by the invitation over on Facebook by some Montgomery friends to gather at the Town Hill County Memorial Monument to see the sun rise on the …

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Merry Midwinter!

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“Night’s black shadows vanish, the golden sun an arc, Winter’s crystals glitter – dazzle – and banished is the dark.”

I read these lovely lines in Gillian Monks’ book “Merry Midwinter” and thought they beautifully evoked the symbolism of the Winter Solstice, which is today in the Northern Hemisphere. They resonate with the optimism that I feel deep inside me, knowing the gloomiest, darkest days are now behind us. Up to now, the dark has triumphed over the light but from today, the seemingly impenetrable obscurity thins a little to let in the delicate glow and warmth of the returning …

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Samhain, gateway to Winter

Celebrated by the Celts, Samhain is the festival that marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the darkening months of the year. At mid-point between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, we are now entering darker times as we journey through the last quadrant on the Wheel of the Year before the Winter Solstice when the light returns. The clocks went back at the weekend and I have noticed how the energy of the sun is now much weakened, like it is getting tired and ready for its last breath.

While I was out gardening yesterday …

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