Approaching Samhain

In the traditional Celtic calendar, Samhain (what we now know as Halloween) is the start of winter. To be sure, even in Wisconsin, there are still local foods being grown and available for purchase, but the huge preservation and cellar stock up is behind us. Lugnasadh (August 1st) is like a starter pistol that begins a race at breakneck pace to harvest and preserve the vast majority of what we’ll eat in the winter. September 1st, here at least, the race doubles down and things go absolutely crazy for the next few weeks.

I’m glad things are slowing down a bit. The space of time between peak harvests and ‘sincere’ winter has some truly beautiful weather here. The slowing down of food tasks lets me focus more on homeschooling. There’s a sensation of closing out the year, but in returning my focus inwards to myself and the children, there’s a sense of being poised to new growth. It’s hidden from view, largely, but we do a lot of growth in the winter time. The goblins’ young brains soak up new information, I research and plan for the new year, and all of us get to have a little fun even as the darkest and coldest days approach.

In fact, I’ve already been getting the research and planning itch. I’ve read two new agriculture books (Tao of Vegetable Gardening and Storey’s Guide to Ducks) and have another on hold (Storey’s Guide to Chickens — need to refresh my chicken research with our first flock coming sometime between Imbolc and Beltane). 2016’s garden layout is planned, budgeted for (complete with pie-in-the-sky wants), and might bear a closer resemblance to final reality than this year’s plan did.

I’m also feeling the space to get creative in the kitchen again. The past two weekends I’ve made batches of apple butter, and this Sunday I tried a new pear preserve recipe. I’ve been trying new recipes each week, something I often don’t have the mental or emotional space to deal with in the busier times of year.

The sense of calming, of slowing down, is what I’m trying to focus on and embrace mentally. A smaller part of brain looks at our larder and has no freakin’ clue whether this is enough (or too much) for the winter. Thankfully, even though we’re returning (in a way) to a pioneer live-and-eat-in-place lifestyle, there’s the safety backstop of winter farmer’s markets and the conventional grocers. The fact that I do this because I love it, because I want instead of have to, is a powerful reassurance. I’ll try and post a “State of the Larder” closer to the actual day of Samhain, to give you (and myself) a final idea of what we have to work with.

Do you like the flow of the seasons? Does Samhain’s shift from the harvest season to the lean days of winter mean anything to you?

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One Comment on “Approaching Samhain”

  1. Well, you know I am not a preserver at present (I do have some jars of pesto in the freezer, but that’s about it). I know what you mean about winter being a time of growth, though! I’ve already noticed us having more time for before-bed reading with the days starting to shorten.


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