the darker half of the year

10.31.20 ~ full blue moon, Barn Island Wildlife Management Area
Pawcatuck, Connecticut
~

I tremble with gratitude
for my children and their children
who take pleasure in one another.

At our dinners together, the dead
enter and pass among us
in living love and in memory.

And so the young are taught.

~ Wendell Berry
(This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems)

It’s been almost a year since we’ve gathered to eat with our children and grandchildren and ancestors. I miss those times. Some day we will all be together again in person but for now we will be grateful for our video calls.

When we know about our ancestors, when we sense them as living and as supporting us, then we feel connected to the genetic life-stream, and we draw strength and nourishment from this.
~ Philip Carr-Gomm
(Druid Mysteries)

We have reached the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Earth’s energy has shifted and the veil between the spirit world and our world has lifted for a few days. It’s a time to reflect on and honor the lives of our ancestors. Three of mine died in an epidemic in the winter of 1711-1712. With this knowledge I do draw strength and nourishment.

We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.
~ Dr. Anthony Fauci
(CNN, October 30, 2020)

the first touch of winter

“At the First Touch of Winter, Summer Fades Away”
by Valentine Cameron Prinsep

The days move more swiftly now, too, with late dawns and early dusks. The days march toward the winter solstice like a winter farmhand with the wind at his back. And the long nights become the sleep of the earth itself, the rest, the waiting.

The fox barks in the night, in the glitter of winter starlight. The deer shelter in the hemlock thickets on the mountain. The woodchuck sleeps, breathing only once in five minutes. And that hurrying wind whistles in the naked maples. November is at hand. This is the hurrying, impatient wind of winter that I hear in the night.

~ Hal Borland
(Hal Borland’s Book of Days)

the continuation of life

tufted titmouse by Jack Bulmer (pixabay)

The idea of the unchanging song of the birds singing in our ears as well as the ears of our ancestors conjures a potent image of the continuation of life — an inheritance so subtle that we must immerse ourselves in the sound of birdcall in order to enter into its richness. The oracular calling of birds speaks directly to our hearts, bypassing our minds; it is a mode of divination that both we and our ancestors had to learn — an unchanging language of meaning.
~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)

Many years ago I saw a picture of a woman from the 1800s holding a tabby cat. It startled me that the cat looked just like a cat from our time! I sort of expected the cat to look as different as the clothing and hairstyles and furniture did back then. And when reading the above words it struck me that not only did cats and other animals look the same to my ancestors, but birds sounded the same, too. It’s a lovely connection, hearing the same tunes they did.

“Morning Glory” by Dona Gelsinger

I thoroughly enjoyed doing the above puzzle as part of my celebrating First Harvest. Something about it is so appealing I had a hard time putting it away after enjoying looking at it for a few days. I suppose the scene could be set in any time period, too.

We now have 155 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 1,433 confirmed cases. Of those 6 are still in the hospital and 103 have lost their lives. That’s 31 new cases in this county and 4 more in the hospital since the last time I looked on August 3rd. It’s ticking up again…

sunflower harvest time

8.1.20 ~ Buttonwood Farm, Griswold, Connecticut

We haven’t really done much to celebrate the First Harvest (Lughnasa, Lammas) in recent years. But I’m finding myself looking forward to the Celtic seasonal festivals again, as a way to acknowledge the passage of time in more even segments during this long-lasting pandemic. So we decided to visit Buttonwood Farm for the sunflower harvest. ‘Twas good to get out of the house and go for a scenic drive.

Due to the high demand earlier in the week and the continued heat and dry field conditions we have an extremely limited amount of sunflowers available to cut. The walking field is still open although the flowers are past their peak.
~ Buttonwood Farm website

July was terribly hot and dry in spite of the oppressive humidity. Not sure how that works. Even the sun loving sunflowers weren’t happy. But I enjoyed capturing them in these less-than-glorious poses. There is beauty to be found everywhere, including in “past their prime.” (I know! I’m a little bit zen, a little bit pagan, a little bit transcendentalist…)

Someone was sitting in front of a sunflower, watching the sunflower, a cup of sun, and so I tried it too. It was wonderful; I felt the whole universe in the sunflower. That was my experience. Sunflower meditation. A wonderful confidence appeared. You can see the whole universe in a flower.
~ Shunryu Suzuki
(Crooked Cucumber: The Life & Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki)

It’s kind of amazing how many different sizes and shapes sunflowers come in. Like people. There were lots of people there, perhaps only half of them wearing masks. A few weren’t repsecting social distancing at all and we found ourselves darting away from a few animated groups of folks who seemed oblivious to our presence. Tim thinks some of them may have been deliberately harassing those of us wearing masks. I hope it isn’t so.

On the other hand, there were some families with well-behaved children wearing masks, doing their best to politely keep apart from others. I found myself wondering how they will make out when they return to school come autumn, if the schools still plan to open by then.

There was a one-way path through the middle of the field but we didn’t dare take it, not knowing how the people ahead of or behind us might behave. We stuck to the perimeter and enjoyed getting lots of close-ups of the flowers.

I never noticed how pretty the back of a sunflower head is before!

We are the Flower — Thou the Sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline —
We nearer steal to Thee!

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #161)

Tim’s computers weren’t communicating with each other properly so after supper he started working on them while I watched a bittersweet movie I hadn’t seen in years, Dancing at Lughnasa, with Meryl Streep. A perfect way to end the magical day.

We now have 151 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 1,402 confirmed cases. Of those 2 are still in the hospital and 103 have lost their lives. Even though the numbers aren’t skyrocketing here they are still going up slowly, so we’re still playing it safe and staying home, except for walks.

I am so relieved to learn that my granddaughter’s school in North Carolina will be in session remotely until January at least. It’s good to know that common sense has prevailed, at least in her district.

a little stardust caught

“Field of Corn” by Louis Valtat

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little stardust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Walden)

due date

Larisa ~ 10.31.18 ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The due date has arrived! It seems this baby plans on being late, too. Larisa is very uncomfortable and trying her best to be patient.

Tim has returned from Connecticut and has resumed taking Katherine to and from daycare. I’m doing laundry and cooking and we’ve both been helping out where needed.

Katherine is excited about Halloween and her best friend is coming over soon to go trick-or-treating with her. We have birthday celebrations scheduled for the next two days and another one next week. (Tim, Dominic and Dima) Lots of activity and a bit too much stimulation for me, but I’m pacing myself with periodic escapes to my room.

Dima got an early birthday present from his family, a combination smoker and grill. We’ve been having some fantastic dinners while we continue to wait for baby. 🙂

Caher Conor (Fahan Beehive Huts)

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ not sure if the 2,000 BC date is accurate ~ other sources suggest the 12th century

Sunday happened to be Imbolc, Groundhog Day, Candlemas or Brigid’s Day, about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It marks the beginning of spring, which I now see comes a lot sooner in Ireland than it does in New England. Our first stop was at these fascinating beehive huts.

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the canine proprietor greeting us was eager to sell us tickets

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the ticket booth was a bit run down but Larisa found him friendly enough

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima, Katherine and Tim had already started the 2-minute walk up the mountain path

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the path narrows

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ stone wall path boundary

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ looking back down at the sea behind us

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I loved the lichens on the stones and the little green mosses and plants

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

Also known as the Fahan Beehive Huts, Caher Conor (Cathair na gConchuireach) is located on the south side of Mount Eagle west of Dingle. The complex consists of five structures.

The clochan (beehive huts) in Caher Conor were probably single family dwellings and were attached to each other with a doorway leading from one to the other. They were built in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone, each stratum lying a little closer to the center than the one beneath and so on up to a small aperture at the top that could be closed with a single small flagstone or capstone. No mortar was used in building, which is called corbelling.

The hillside at one time had over 400 of these drystone, corbelled huts surviving, prompting one antiquarian in the 19th century to refer to the area as the “City of Fahan”. Dating the huts is difficult because the skill of corbelling has been used in Newgrange (3100 B.C.) and as recently as the 1950s. The huts at Fahan along the Slea Head Drive may well date to the 12th Century when the incoming Normans forced the Irish off the good land and out to the periphery of the Dingle Peninsula.

~ Saints & Stones website

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ this enclosure didn’t have a roof

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa coming through a doorway

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Katherine going through a doorway

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ orbs ~ I found the one with the bright center very interesting

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ it was so cold that Katherine finally relented and put her coat on ~ notice the pink plastic spoon in her hand ~ it was with her most of the day

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa and a gorgeous view

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima and another view

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ this cross would make more sense being here if the wall was built in the 12th century

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Barbara & Tim with orbs ~ Larisa knit the hat from Irish wool ~ at first she let me borrow it but then she gave it to me ~ now I have wool hats from Ireland and Norway!

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I think Ireland may have even more stones than New England does!

2.4.18 ~ view from Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ coming around a corner

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the walk back down to the parking lot

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the canine proprietor keeping tabs on our departure

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ a door on a nearby building

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the side of the same building, set well into the steep mountainside

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the narrow, one-lane road between the entrance and the tiny parking lot

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ view looking down from the parking lot ~ yikes!

It was good to get warmed up in the car and drive off for our next destination.