Halloween here yesterday was an uneventful affair: neither the commercialised side of this festival - with all its spook, blood and gore - nor trick-or-treat'ers found their way up to our remote location!
Halloween, Samhain (ancient Pagan Celtic festival meaning “Summer’s end” in Gaelic), Nos Galan Gaeaf and Calan Gaeaf (Welsh for “the first of Winter” interestingly) and the Christian All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day celebrations all intertwine at this time of year. Traditionally now is the time when the harvest is in and our pantries - and freezers! - are filling up; we remember our dead and honour our ancestors; Nature makes the transition from productive Summer to fallow Winter; we enter the darkest period of the year with weakening sun light and short days as the Wheel of the Year turns towards the Winter Solstice; a good time for reflection and integration of past, present and future.
Here are Upper Cefn-y-Pwll, the summer harvest is indeed in and we are preparing the vegetable beds for Winter. We have just picked the very last courgette and are having a go at drying the last of the runner beans. We have trays and trays of apples. We are waiting for our first cold spell to pick the first parsnips and celeriac. Some days have started very misty, creating an eerie atmosphere and making the otherwise invisible cobwebs stand out. Following a mild and sunny October with hardly any wind (not much electricity produced by our wind turbine this month!), the autumnal colours, with so many ancient woodlands around us, are a real pleasure to see. Each day, the tones seem to get deeper and richer and each day, I go out and appreciate these stunning views for I know one day soon, they will be gone… We are starting to light our woodburners daily and are replenishing our wood stores. At the same time as our clocks go back, our ewes’ body clocks are set for the mating season: they are displaying signs that they are beginning their oestrus cycles and we will introduce a ram next week.
Nature being our guide and teacher as always, I have decorated a windowsill with pumpkins and squashes together with fallen leaves, our own natural nod to Halloween.