Lammas: a slow shift towards Autumn

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It's Lammas tomorrow, the festival on the Wheel of the Year that marks the mid-point between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. The high energy of Summer is now waning and as we move into the month of August nature offers us the very first glimpses of Autumn. Have you noticed any signs where you are?

Here in the Welsh hills, the landscape around the smallholding is dominated by the purpley-pink blooms of rosebay willowherb that mingle with the creamy froths of meadowsweet and the vigorous and abundant green bracken. At home, the fruit trees in our orchard are …

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The fullness of Summer

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Once again, the gap since my last blog offering is bigger than I would like. I had planned to send a Summer Solstice post out but several things conspired against its timely dispatch. First, I was troubled by some lower back sciatic pain that slowed me right down in the garden at the height of the busy season and I have avoided sitting down at the computer for too long to give my body a chance to recover. Secondly, my mum came to stay with us in June and I made sure to spend as much time as possible together …

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Preparing for new growth at Imbolc

The start of February is upon us and on the Wheel of the Year, we have reached the Celtic festival of Imbolc today in the Northern Hemisphere. We now move into the last phase of Winter that will take us to Spring and I have seen, heard and felt small but ever so delightful signs that the Earth is waking up from its Winter sleep. The first snowdrops are popping up on the green grassy banks along our lane and I have spotted the first wild primrose in bloom in the garden; there are fresh shoots on the honeysuckle climber; …

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Winter Solstice, a chance to take time out

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Today is the Winter Solstice, the point in the year that marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Not only is it a celebration of the returning light in the Northern Hemisphere but it is also the start of a new season: Winter, when nature is dormant, wildlife hibernates and the trees that have shed their leaves now put all their energy into their roots deep underground. Winter is a fallow period for us on our smallholding too as we have learnt to use the time to reflect on the growing year now finished and plan …

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It's Autumn!

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Oh dear, oh dear... are you still with me, dear Readers? A whole four months have passed since I last posted on this blog, a whole season and more! The combination of a busy Summer season and some procrastination on my part accounts for this gap in my more regular musings. I remember the beginnings of a Summer Solstice blog formulating in my mind, then one about the joy of first harvest but I have had to let go of both of these as time passed and neither of these write-ups made it out of my head unfortunately. Being a …

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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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