Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blessings of the Solstice

What I love about this time of year, is that, because I celebrate both Yule *and* Christmas, it's like having several holidays all in one week. Many pagans celebrate both holidays, whether because of family obligations or choices, or merely because Christmas is so ingrained in our culture, and there are so many ways of taking part in the festivities, that it seems silly not to take part. Whether you enjoy stringing lights in your trees, decorating with greenery, exchanging gifts, baking cookies or singing carols, there are so many wonderful things to do to keep our spirits uplifted at this dark time of year.

My husband and I exchange gifts on Midwinter day, and have a special meal (today, rib eye steaks with fried mushrooms. sauteed kale and roasted fingerling potatoes). It was too cloudy here to see the eclipse, but I'm sure the energies will continue to be felt for the next month.

I enjoy throwing parties and attending them, too. Sadly I don't have a Yule ritual to attend locally and am too far away from my coven to attend their Yule rite, but I think there are ways to observe the holiday and feel the magic without performing ritual. Harnessing the energy of this full moon for meditation, creative work or renewal of vows (to oneself, to others, to our work or art) is also a way to make Yuletide a powerful festival.

I'm looking forward to at least one more holiday part this year, at New Year's. I know there will fine food and drink, music and singing, and possibly sitting in the hot tub in the open air under the stars (or the snow). I'm thinking of proposing a wassail ritual, too, because the party hosts planted a small orchard of fruit trees this year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My 2011 Apple calendar, on sale!

So, if you still need a 2011 calendar, today is the day to get one for you or your loved ones. Lulu.com is having a special today only: 30% all calendars. Just put the code "DEC16" into the line at check-out.

My calendar "Brushwood Apples" has photos taken in the past two years throughout the seasons, featuring the wild apple trees of the Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, NY: a beautiful campground where many music and pagan festival events have taken place over the last three decades.

All photos were taken by me with a 1960 Pentax Spotmatic, or a Nikon Coolpix digital camera. I hope you'll get one of my calendars for yourself or a friend or family member.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mistletoe, orchards: endangered?

The Guardian reports today that mistletoe may disappear in the next two decades, due in part to the continuing decline of traditional orchards in Great Britain. Fortunately the National Trust and Natural England have united to try and forestall this complex and alarming problem, by encouraging the growing of orchard fruits in "traditional" forms. To qualify as a "traditional orchard" there must be at least five trees evenly spaced, and they must be"allowed to grow gnarled, hollowed and eventually fall where they stand." These "unique habitats" provide shelter and food for many animals and other species and their loss may well irrevocably alter the British landscape, as in Devon, which the Guardian reports has lost up to 90% of its orchard in the last 50 years.

Of course, this is not "new" news. The Telegraph reported on it in 2008 (as did I). Websites designed to encourage apple growers in Devon and Exeter (which has many apple varieties unique to the area, like the "Cornish Pine" pictured) may help generate some interest in this enriching, environmentally useful activity.

If you're reading this blog, you know that orchard activism is my passion. I'd love to hear your own observations, stories and ideas for helping to preserve the beauty and utility of this agricultural tradition.

The orchard photo above was taken in Glastonbury about ten years ago, in the old orchards at the base of the Tor.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

All apples are good in this state, and your jaws are the cider-press.

"Before the end of December, generally, they experience their first thawing. Those which a month ago were sour, crabbed, and quite unpalatable to the civilized taste, such at least as were frozen while sound, let a warmer sun come to thaw them, for they are extremely sensitive to its rays, are found to be filled with a rich, sweet cider, better than any bottled cider that I know of, and with which I am better acquainted than with wine. All apples are good in this state, and your jaws are the cider-press."

Henry David Thoreau, Wild Apples, 1892

This charmingly fine piece of writing, in which apples in the wild are discussed in delicious detail, can be read entirely online here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Quixotic Quince

I was gifted with a big box of quinces a couple of weeks ago. They've been in the garage, which doubles as my cold cellar, and making my husband's "smoking lounge" smell heavenly. In the past I have enjoyed putting a few in a bowl (after grabbing them off the ground when they fall from neighborhood hedges or trees--no one knows what to do with these fruits! I am an inveterate fruit forager) and letting them scent the house for weeks; as they mellow in the bowl the sweet but herby fragrance is wonderful.

I once gave some quinces to a friend who was a mead brewer and he made some amazing mead from them; this is a fine use for these fruits if you know any mead makers.

But I recently learned they make a really good jam, and since they have so much natural pectin, I get to use my tried and true method for jam making, which is, you guessed it, not using pectin. I found this simple recipe and this website seems to have a pretty straightforward approach to canning and preserves.

I visited the Cloisters in New York two years ago in early November when the quinces were enormous on the trees: perfect, round, yellow, blemish-free. The garden there also has some delightful herb gardens and some espaliered pear and apple trees.

Alas, the fruits I have are likely to be worm-ridden...but I get I can still get some jam out of them!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Orchard Visiting

I've visited some orchards over the last few weeks, both wild and cultivated, and took many photos! I'll share a few of them here with you.
This is one of the orchards at Indian Ladders Farms, in Altamont, NY. A beautiful place with many acres of old and newer orchards. They have a wonderful shop and cafe, too, featuring fresh cider doughnuts (of course!), cider, gifts, jams, and local cheeses and other foods.
It was a gorgeous sunny day when we visited two weeks ago. They were no longer offering "pick your own" apples, alas! The trees stopped producing a bit earlier than usual with the weather this year. But we bought a nice big bag of Jonagolds which have been delicious.
Plenty of dropped apples remain. I wonder what they do with them? Let the deer eat them? Make cider? I imagine they must clean up some of them. They do bottle some good cider, but I'd love to see them sponsor an event like Cider Days, featuring hard cider craft brewing.
The orchards stretch along a mile or so at the base of the Helderberg mountains, which were ablaze with glorious color. It's always a lovely drive there, but doubly so at the height of autumn's changing hues.
This is one of the older wild apple trees at the Brushwood Folklore Center near Jamestown, NY. I was there for the weekend of Hallowe'en/Samhain for a ritual and potluck feast and party. It was cold, windy and rainy for much of the weekend, but invigorating! I was also there the weekend prior, and it was warm and sunny!
There weren't many apples this year. A few remain on the trees. I brought some drop apples from my neighborhood to spread around for the deer and will bring more in December.I did some pruning in the orchard last weekend, to help the trees produce more apples. This also gives us some nice apple wood to burn in our campfires, when the branches dry out.
Last year, I designed a calendar at Lulu.com which featured photos of the wild apple trees at Brushwood, and I'm working on a new one for 2011. I'll link to it here when it's ready. I hope you enjoy my orchard visits!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remembering Connie

In August, Connie Baker passed away. She was a friendly presence at our local farmer's market, where I have been selling baked goods for two years. Before that, I bought fruit from her, and she always had a smile, a joke or a helpful tip about their products. She helped operate her family's orchard business for 42 years, selling plants and fruit at local farm markets. The Hudson Farmers' Market website posted a nice tribute to her.

I wanted to mention Connie, even though she passed a few weeks ago, because at this time of year, when orchard businesses are so busy, "u-pick" businesses are such a wonderful feature of life in our communities. Connie helped run the "u-pick" aspect of their business, and also helped sell fruit at the markets, and without her, the family has had to hire additional help.

I know women like Connie are a rare sight these days: working with family-owned farm businesses their entire lives, bearing up through extremes of weather (the market could be hot and humid, or cold and rainy), and through lean seasons of drought or other challenges for fruit growers. Her legacy is an honorable one we should all take a moment to appreciate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Some poetry, plucked for October...

My favorite month. I often feel both melancholy and happy on any given day in October. The weather, the scents, the colors, make this time of year a sensual carnival. Here, some poems that capture the month nicely. I'm feeling a poetry writing mood coming on...

A child looking at ruins grows younger
but cold
and wants to wake to a new name
I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows
and the wren laughs in the early shade now
come again shining glance in your good time
naked air late morning
my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
in the sun.
~~ W. S. Merwin, The Love of October

How innocent were these Trees, that in
Mist-green May, blown by a prospering breeze,
Stood garlanded and gay;
Who now in sundown glow
Of serious color clad confront me with their show
As though resigned and sad,
Trees, who unwhispering stand umber, bronze, gold;
Pavilioning the land for one grown tired and old;
Elm, chestnut, aspen and pine, I am merged in you,
Who tell once more in tones of time,
Your foliaged farewell.
~~ Siegfried Sassoon, October Trees

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
~~ Robert Frost, October

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on."
~~ Emily Dickinson, Nature 27 - Autumn

And this charming bit of prose about wild apples, from Henry David Thoreau:

"To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.” It takes a savage or wild taste to appreciate a wild fruit. . . The era of the Wild Apple will soon be past. It is a fruit which will probably become extinct in New England. I fear that he who walks over these fields a century hence will not know the pleasure of knocking off wild apples. Ah, poor soul, there are many pleasures which you will not know! . . . the end of it all will be that we shall be compelled to look for our apples in a barrel."
~~ Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I am a Witch. I’m Everything You’ve Heard. I’m You.

Christine O’Donnell apparently thinks the way to win the hearts of the conservative base is to continue to try and spin (nay, backpedal on) the outrageous statements she made about “dabbling in witchcraft” when she was in high school.
Her most recent video to go viral was one she had made as a political ad. And once again, she doesn't appear to think that offending the many thousands (millions?) of people who practice modern witchcraft or other nature-based spiritualities is a problem. Apparently, we are simply not people who are anywhere near her calibre of human being.

The blogosphere, pagan and otherwise, is full of commentary on the fallout of her first series of unfortunate remarks, made during an appearance on Bill Maher’s ABC show “Politically Incorrect” in the late 1990s. She claimed to have had a picnic on a “satanic altar” while out on a date. Of course, her remarks were clearly an opportunity for her to condemn modern paganism and reveal her titillating insider secrets (“You can’t make this stuff up! I know what these people say they do!”)

O’Donnell was a frequent guest on Maher’s show, especially around Hallowe’en, since she often had entertaining things to say about the occult. My personal favorite was her pronouncement (unchallenged by other guests or Maher) that the origin of trick or treat lay in the custom of the druids, who “would go door to door looking for a human sacrifice.” That is verbatim, folks. Given the recent recognition of druidry as a legitimate religion by the British government, I am fervently wishing for Maher to unearth that video clip and share it with the world.

Personally, I think this painting is where she came up with that lame-brained image:

Apparently some ultra-Christian websites such as Jesuswalk like to refer to it from time to time. O'Donnell's grasp of history (or should that be art history?) is as nonexistent as her vaunted claim that she always tells the truth. What she doesn't seem to get is that we've all seen this before: the innocent Christian who, during some youthful phase of rebellion, hung around with "real" witches or satan-worshippers, only to reject their evil ways, but not before she got a big eyeful of the naked midnight rituals complete with dancing goats, devilish orgies, and the sacrifice of innocent little babies on on satanic altars. (Because obviously, that's what witches do. Just ask Christine, who gets her history from fantastical pre-Raphaelite paintings.)

This "insider knowledge" is a tired old trick, utilized frequently during the height of the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare in the 1980s; talk show mavens like Oprah and Geraldo whipped audiences into a frenzy when they'd host guests who claimed to have seen every disgusting atrocity known to mankind, all perpetrated in the name of satan worship and witchcraft. Too bad the FBI never found a scrap of evidence to prove that children were being tortured or sacrificed in the name of Beezelebub, despite investigating such claims for years.

Christine O'Donnell is trading on the same methods because her followers, Tea Baggers who barely have a passing relationship with factual information, eat it up like miniature candy bars. Her scrubbed-face innocence (she's like a pious Rachael Ray) ensures people will forgive her youthful folly, and worship her for escaping the evil influence of witches like me, or you.

Many of us, as practicing neopagans, witches and druids, will no doubt become enraged by O'Donnel's ignorance and prejudice, by the news media's insensitivity as they, like her, continue to miss the point. Which is this: regardless of how unusual or "different" anyone thinks practitioners of witchcraft might be, we're still people. Our indignant response to the media's ridiculous and condescending attitude towards our beliefs and practices is entirely appropriate. We're not some fringe element living on the edge of society. We call ourselves witches, druids, neopagans, heathens and many other names, because this identifies our spiritual path. Like other spiritual people, we must live within the framework of contemporary society.

We have jobs, we raise families, we vote, we walk our dogs, we grow tomatoes, we pay taxes, we have gym memberships, we buy groceries, we visit Salem during October. Gods help us, we believe in evolution, and yes, we masturbate. We also believe in magic, and in the healing and awe-inspiring power and beauty of nature. We are teachers, firefighters, secretaries, chefs, accountants, personal trainers, doctors, lawyers, journalists. We're everywhere. We're you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Festival of the Trees! Fruits

As we enter September, trees in the Northern Hemisphere are changing: the leaves are morphing and showing new colors, readying for autumn. And many trees are sharing a glorious late summer bounty of fruit: peaches, plums, apples, pears, and more. This month I asked for posts that celebrate fruiting trees from all over the world.

Later this month, I will travel to the Brushwood Folklore Center for their yearly autumn festival known as Heartsong, where we will pick apples and press cider! Last year, a late frost killed the blossoms on most of the widld apple trees, and the harvest was so slim that our coder pressing had to be augmented with apples purchased from a nearby farm stand. But this year the trees are full of fruit! The header photo for my blog was taken there this past July.

From Australia, the Box Elder blog shares a wonderful journey past several fruiting trees and vines, to see the mirabelle trees full of deep red juicy fruit. What a beautiful name for a beautiful tree and fruit.

Are nuts a fruit? Well they are most certainly a food, and for that reason we are grateful for them, as are many woodland creatures who use this nutritious bounty to get them through the winter. From the Beneath the Water blog, we go on a magical journey through the woods to a hazel tree coppice, seeing some stunning images along the way.

The Growing with Science blog tells us all about the lemon tree; where would we be without this nutrient-packed, flavorful fruit? I use it in my cooking at least twice every week, sometimes more. Lemon trees are also lovely to look at, like the song says: "Lemon Tree, very pretty!"

I've never eaten a paw-paw, and I'll bet most of you haven't, either, but after hearing that it tastes like a divine combination of cantaloupe, mango and banana, I am curious! This blog tells us all about this native fruit which is now ripening all over North Carolina, and shoes us some lovely paw-paw trees. Now, doesn't that look simply delicious?

Speaking of exotic native fruits, the persimmon has always fascinated me: dreadfully sour until the perfect moment of ripeness, it is an elusive treat. The blogger at Anybody seen my focus? shows us some local persimmon trees in flower and fruit.

Some trees fruit so heavily, they can become a burden to the very branches that bore them. Via Negativa tells us about the black cherry tree, and a quote from the blogger's mother talks of the many birds that feed on its fruit, and the black bears that will break the trees in order to get at the abundant fruits. I have never been a fan of cherries, but I love seeing the trees in fruit in the summer, and Black Cherry was my favorite Koolaid flavor as a kid!

Speaking of black bears, the blogger at Yips and Yowls tells us of her yearly race to get to the sweet crunchy fruits of her local pear trees before the bears do. Will she be successful?

What about trees that provide food to the soul? This thoughtful post from the Hillstead Blog tells us all about the Tree of Heaven, and its fascinating folklore. And from the Nutcase blog, a view of the ancient bristlecone pines of California's White Mountains; surely these stately, serene trees nurture us with their wisdom and beauty.

Over at Rock Paper Lizard, we visit a Pacific crabapple tree. These curmudgeons of the fruit tree family flower beautifully in spring but then give us small sour fruits. But some people enjoy the jelly made from crabapples (I am about to send some to my friend Wren in Florida so she can make jelly), and the birds eat the plentiful fruits.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this month's 51st edition of Festival of the Trees! Next month, the festival will be hosted at Kind of Curious. The theme is open, and submissions may be sent to John at kindofcurious2000 [at] gmail [dot] com. The deadline is September 28th.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Heirloom Apples Planted!

So sorry to have neglected this blog for so long! We moved house in early May and it's been busy to say the least. But here is an update on those heirloom apple trees...
We planted the White Pearmain soon after we moved into our new house. Alas we could not plant it in the front yard because of the water line. But I found a sunny spot in the side yard.

The Smokehouse is now planted right near our new campsite with the orange trailer at Brushwood. Being a semi-dwarf tree it should fit well into that spot. With any luck it should start bearing fruit in 3 years or so.

Recently spoke with a guy in our old neighborhood who planted a few heirloom trees; he bought and lives in an old church and the lot is very big. One of the trees he planted is called "Bullock" which is my grandmothers maiden name! He ordered from the St. Lawrence Nurseries which is owned by my friend Nova's family (she goes to Brushwood every summer and her family have been going for years). I plan to order our next tree from them. They don't have alot of dwarf trees but I bet a standard would be fine. I'd also like to get some berry bushes from them.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two heirloom apple trees ordered!

Well, I ordered two heirloom apple trees from Trees of Antiquity today! One for our new house and one for Brushwood. I was unable to get the trees I had wanted (the Karmijn de Sonnaville and the Sweet Bough both need slightly warmer locations (their hardiness zones start in Zone 6 and we're closer to a 5 here).

So I got a Smokehouse and a White Pearmain (which has been named since 1200 AD in England!), both of which are very interesting varieties. Smokehouse apples are good for cider, so that will be the Brushwood tree.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thoughts of spring...

Went for a lovely long walk in the sunshine today, the dog happily loping alongside, sniffing at the muddy mounds laid bare by melting slush. Plenty of birds were out, including some playful chickadees flying around and chasing each other in the limps of a huge maple tree, and a big crowd of sparrows cheeping and chirping inside a group of forsythia bushes, their chests puffed out so they all looked fat. Maybe they were trying to expose their feathers to the sun. They sure sounded happy!

I know winter has a few weeks left, but when I can feel the warm sun, can see the buds and smell the soil, when there are daffodils shoots showing their green tethers, I get so excited for spring's arrival! Also, I got five garden catalogs today! Well, four, one was a duplicate, and I gave the extra to the gal who is buying our house; she was here for the inspection today. I walked around and told her what was planted where, and she seemed excited by all the possibilities. She said I must have done a lot of work; I sue did! I enjoyed it for the most part, but I do hope the soil at our new place is easier to work with.

I came across this poem by Robert Frost and it sums up my dreaming hopes for spring:

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

- Robert Frost, A Prayer in Spring

Monday, February 22, 2010

Time to order apple trees!

If you're considering ordering some apple trees, now is a good time. Heirloom apples tend to sell out quickly and shipping has already begun in some areas. Trees of Antiquity begins shipping in January and continues shipping apple trees through early April. I think this year I want to get a Sweet Bough, an early riperner with showy blossoms and attractive fruit, apparenty first discovered in New York State, and a Karmijn de Sonnaville, a mid-season Dutch apple with showy blossoms. Yes, I am thinking showy blossoms would be lovely. This company is excellent to deal with. They recommend planting we before the last frost date in your area, so in the Zone 5a locations I plan to plant in, that means mid-to-late April.

I also like the Miller Nurseries website, have heard good things about them from a friend who ordered a number of trees from them this past year, and might consider ordering from them in the future. They have a terrific selection of semi-dwarf trees.

Any of you planning on planting apple or other fruit trees this year? Any plans to plant heirloom trees? Here is a list describing some wonderful heirloom apple varieties. Tell me about your own favorites or what's on your wishlist.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Terry Maloney, Cider Maker and Apple Enthusiast, Dies in Colrain, MA

Terry Maloney, know by many cider enthusiasts as the man who (with his wife Judith, with whom he ran a cider and winery business, West County Cider) was responsible for the current cider-making renaissance in the United States, died this past week in his home in Colrain Massachusetts, in a freak accident while checking his cider brewing equipment. Cider making has become particularly popular in New England, with many orchards seeing renewed interest in fruit growing and planting heirloom cider apple varieties. Terry and Judith were consider cider making experts who were frequently interviewed by local media, and their founding of the annual Cider Days has created a yearly event that people travel to from all over the country and abroad.

I didn't know Terry personally, but I salute his pioneering spirit and his love of nature's delectable, useful bounty. Let's all lift a glass of cider in his honor.

The following excerpts come from an announcement earlier this week in the Cider Digest, an online list for cider makers and hobbyists:

It is my sad duty to report the untimely death of one of the best-known and best-loved of America's craft cidermakers -- Terry Maloney of West County Cider in Colrain, Massachusetts.

Terry died in what can only be described as a freak accident yesterday (Friday) in the basement cidermaking room at his home. From what I understand, a piece of filtration equipment full of cider under pressure "exploded" with sufficient force to knock Terry back, and he hit his head hard, causing his death.

Already this morning (Sat), some of Terry's closest friends in the cider community have been on the phone with one another, discussing this shocking and unexpected event. In the course of time, I'm sure that we will organize at least one memorial or tribute (and probably more) to this gentle, affectionate man who -- as much as anyone -- was responsible (along with his terrific wife Judith) for the modern rebirth of cider culture in the US.

I first met Judith and Terry Maloney more than 20 years ago, and we almost immediately became friends. The Maloneys came to western Massachusetts with experience from California vineyards. The beautiful hill towns of Franklin County, MA are a traditional apple-growing and cider-making region, so Terry and Judith began a winery that focused on locally grown fruits like apples and blueberries. Over the years, they have everything from unfiltered Farm Cider (still one of my favorites) to artfully crafted cidre doux and a whole range of distinguished varietals that included Reine de Pomme, Baldwin, Roxbury Russet, Kingston Black, and the astonishingly good, copper-colored Redfield, a signature product of West County Cider and an example of Terry's skill as both a cidermaker and fruit grower.

In addition to making their own cider, Terry and Judith have been central players in promoting craft ciders from all over the US -- as founders and organizers of the annual Cider Days festival, which over the past 15+ years has provided an ever expanding showcase of the best American ciders. All of us -- producers and drinkers alike -- owe the Maloneys our profound respect and gratitude.

Those of us who knew Terry personally will always remember him as a thoughtful, soft-spoken, cultured, but also passionate man, and will miss him greatly. But Terry's death is also a loss to many in the cider world who never met him -- he was a real pioneer who showed the way for so many of today's craft producers. He will be missed.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

In honor of Imbolc: The 5th Annual Brigid Poetry Festival

Hosted by Blog o' Gnosis, this poetry festival is intended to celebrate Imbolc and the goddess Brigid who is often associated with this pagan festival. She is the Irish goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft, and so a potent symbol for inspiration and creative endeavor, and very welcome during the dormancy of winer.

Some neopagans celebrate Imbolc as a festival with overtones of its Roman festival that occurs a few days later, Lupercalia. (I discuss this in last year's blog post for this holiday). So Imbolc becomes a time to honor Pan, wild god of the forest and its creatures, who are beginning to stir and ready themselves for spring.

But whether your main deity focus for your rites is Pan or Brigid, both can certainly be said to spark creativity: one via the hearth of the heart, one via the fire of the mind (and other places perhaps).

So, a poem for Imbolc (actually, this is a song I wrote some years ago; it still doesn't feel finished):

Man in Green

Saw him in the forest,
His eyes speak trees and vine
Saw him bless the harvest,
His lips taste songs, sweet acorn wine

Green, green his cloak
green, green his hood
green, green the garments of the man in the wood

Saw him dancing shadows
Misty meadow grey, dew-dropping rain
Watched him waltz with the barley mows
Gold and silver shining, warming grain

Green his hazel wand
Green his oaken shield
Green his ivy-covered mantle, the lord of the field

From his hands sweet berries fall,
To the winter sun standing tall,
Autumn’s circling seedlings he returns,
Springtime’s Beltane branches burn.

Running through the forest,
Hunter, brother, master, the Horned One,
Creatures by the Oak King blessed,
Flee forever poison, crossbow and gun

Green the twilight glows
Green the water gleams
Green, green his secrets, the lord of dreams

Dark the midnight forest,
Shroud of starlight, cup of moonlight in your hand
Singing weary souls to rest
All is silence, all is peace o'er all the land

Green, green the stars
Green, green the fire
Green the whispering glade around us
Green the shade of desire

Green, green my eyes
Green, green my heart
Green my love's dusky shadow
The man in the dark.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! Wassail!

Blessings of the New Year to you all, and may your 2010 be full of joy, abundance, and love. My plans for the new year include finding a new home once our house sells, and finding a place with enough space to plant some heirloom apple trees. I also plan to pursue my new hobby interest of brewing apple wine and cider. This will allow us to develop a tradition of wassailing in the new year: here's to pagan homesteading!

If you haven't purchased a new calendar for 2010, I have designed two different calendars with photos of the wild apple trees of the Brushwood Folklore Center. The photos in this post were taken there with my old Pentax. The calendars have many photos of the trees through the seasons, and are on sale now at lulu.com for 30% off if you use the code "AFTERXMAS" at checkout. You can check them out here (basic version), and here (deluxe large version): they have slightly different images, and all photos were taken with either my 1967 Pentax Spotmatic, or my Nikon Coolpix.

(The runestead at Brushwood)