Showing posts with label harvest American Traditions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label harvest American Traditions. Show all posts

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Let There Always Be Light

I absolutely love the autumnal season where everything still is so green and bright here in the lush Willamette Valley of Oregon.

In spite of climate change issues with temperature changes already altering weather records, and higher prices than most areas of the U.S. it continues to be a lovely place to live. 

Yes, Alaska will always have my heart but marrying an Oregonian 50 years ago and choosing Salem, the City of Peace, was a very wise choice!

Forty-three years ago we built our home with a lot of sweat equity and a $37,000 and a 30 year mortgage saved up with nickels and dimes and lots of hard work! I still love it aging issues and all.

After all we have aged right alongside the house we built, the fruit trees we planted and hundreds and hundreds of trees and shrubs and perennials. And now we constantly reap the rewards of those efforts by being the best stewards of this piece of land that we still can.

My wisteria vines are a delight in the summer and early fall. Here they are so full they are in need of another pruning to allow the centerpieces plant and decor to even show! 
This is a favorite decorating opportunity for the 5 and 6 year
old grandchildren to scout out my hodge podge deck decor and make little scenes everywhere.

Here a real birds nest recently discovered having fallen from a tall tree is joined by 2 chickens, one wooden and one metal but still getting along famously without disagreements at all!  

Look closely above, and you'll see that a 2nd birds next joined the decor! No wonder Jasper was staring at it!

In the wee hours from 3 to 6 a.m. when I am already up and about, their tiny Christmas lights (purchased every winter and twined anew onto bare vines before leafing in the Spring) cheer up my always awake and sleepless nights. 

And unfortunately with cloudy skies at night I am happily bringing in my own lights. 

There was a spectacular harvest moon weeks back,  but now I must be content with my 3 a.m. walkabout to see a delightful crescent moon and some tiny but lovely stars. Photos even "night" selected were just a blur but I can picture them in my mind. Meanwhile I know they, the moon, and the sun still shine!!! 

The rest of my very long busy days and restful but awake hours, Jasper keeps me entertained under artificial lighting. Here, he appears to be making his shopping list from a Wilco Farm Store flyer.

And yes, I still sew and quilt. When the mood strikes I tiptoe upstairs by flashlight, and carefully select my 5 a.m. lighting and create and sew, sew, sew!  I can't say what yet.  But were getting a something or other, don't know which, in November. So this crazy lady is having even more crazy fun in the magical design loft and little sewing nook day and night right now! 

And then, there's the bounty and abundance of the fruits of our land and our labors. And when I say our, I usually mean Larry. He picked, washed, sliced, and pureed or stewed or canned or froze. Day after day while still working outside of the home for our home building business of 35 years of hard, hard, work in multiple towns with hours of driving every which way. 

Did I mention we work for free?  So of course others love our work ethics and Larry is of course helping our son keep our small but amazing home based business going. Larry says our son Blake is both the brains and the brawn of the business. That he's just along for the ride! 

And on the homefront, our ongoing celebration of harvest and harvesting. The apple varieties continue to be picked from our original batches of Gravenstein apples to Golden Delicious to Melrose and others, picking and canning golden jars of applesauce both with and without sugar and some with added cinnamon.

Last photo above-two more batches of applesauce on top of all of my other harvest posts' jars of applesauce!

Want a giggle and a big old "WHAT?" Double press the photo to read my spice jar labels. The state of the labels tell you how long these have been there. Normally the labels are rotated to the back sides.  

I misplaced my cauldron so I haven't been creating exotic potions for decades but I love all of these extra dried up or not exotics! Gifts from my oldest daughter, Terin  when one of us was considerably younger and both of us knew what all these were and what for. Now, one of us (sigh) doesn't any more. My beautiful and amazing daughter took classes and was certified as a Medical Herbalist along with her other talents and gifts. Used to helping friends battle cancer and stepping in for them when others stepped out, but now having learned first hand how how challenging it truly can be she has survived 65 chemo treatments, surgery and in depth radiation  We have all learned so much from her. Cider making, beekeeping,  gardening all part of our family fun and activities we share. Family for us is what it's all about!

We'd have no need to make a kazillion packets of dried prunes, endless jars of jam and applesauce etc. if we didn't have a helping family who loves it as much as we do!

It's family--kids and grandkids that light up our life, expand our hearts, and inspire us to be more and do more. Love them all so much!!

Then after all the family fun. It's back to just us at work! The prunes are still being picked, eaten fresh of course but also dried in our homemade food dehydrator from the 70s/80s. Batch after batch of cleaned over and over fresh from the pitted and the resulting halves layer upon the grated shelves to dry from the simple heat of a light bulb! Takes 48+ each batch to dry. They are a great treat for our 4 grandchildren, ages 2 through 7 and one we all love! 

And yes, my posts are always typed on my beloved Galaxy Note 9 cell phone. Hours and hours and hours per blog post and only an iffy, whiffs mobile signal on clear days.  

I like to believe it's keeping me sharper than I might otherwise be considering my family history and certainly teaches me a lot about psycho typos and glitches in the air waves and to be an even more patient and steadfast woman!

And now snippets of poetry as I am prone to share, always using my 1972 back pocket English degree around this site!

From Rebecca Elson, poet/astronomer 
(January 2, 1960–May 19, 1999)

"For this we go out dark nights, searching For the dimmest stars, For signs of unseen things To weigh us down. 

To stop the universe From rushing on and on Into its own beyond Till it exhausts itself and lies down cold, Its last star going."

And another:

"Whatever they turn out to be, Let there be swarms of them, Enough for immortality, Always a star where we can warm ourselves.

Let there be enough to bring it back From its own edges, To bring us all so close we ignite The bright spark of resurrection."

"The astronomer and poet Rebecca Elson (January 2, 1960–May 19, 1999) was twenty-nine when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma — a blood cancer that typically invades people in their sixties and seventies. Throughout the bodily brutality of the treatment, throughout the haunting uncertainty of life in remission, she met reality on its own terms — reality creaturely and cosmic, terms chance-dealt by impartial laws — and made of that terrifying meeting something uncommonly beautiful."

Maria Popova

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as I/she/we share an imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon.
 Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, from my heart and with my hands.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Origins: All Saint's Day, All Hallows, Samhein, Dia de los Muertos

The origins of Halloween, may have begun with Roman festivals of harvest, but is typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)",which is derived from the Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end."

The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year, and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the Celtic New Year.

It is believed that the border between this world and the otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through.

All Saints Day, or All Hallows or Hallowmas, is a Christian feast day celebrated on November 1, or the first Sunday after Pentecost.

It a day meant to honor all of the saints, both known and unknown. Because Halloween preceded this feast day, that day actually took it's name from this feast day and thus became "The Eve of All Hallows', and eventually 'Hallowe'en'.

In the Christian West, All Saints Day honors those who have attained beatific vision in heaven, while November 2, All Soul's Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not been so purified and entered heaven.

In the tradition of using holy names taken from the Greek, early names such as All Hallowmas referred to hallowed or saintly, and mas, to the early Christian mass.

The Day of the Dead (Día de los Difuntos or Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico and the Mexican immigrant community living in the United States.

The holiday is based on the complicated blended cultures of their ancestors, the Aztec and Maya, and the Spanish invaders, layered with Catholicism.

For more than 500 years, the goddess Mictecacihuatl (Lady of the Dead) presided over Aztec harvest rituals using fires and incense, costumes of animal skins, images of their dead and offerings of ceramics, personal goods, flowers and foods, drink and flowers.

The Aztec, Mayan and other indigenous traditions have enriched the Mexican's attitude about death. From these ancestors has come the knowledge that souls continue to exist after death, resting placidly in Mictlan, the land of the dead, not for judgment or resurrection; but for the day each year when they could return home to visit their loved ones.

Los Dias de Los Muertos is a time for remembering friends, family and ancestors. In the Mexican tradition, people die three deaths.

The first death is when our bodies cease to function; when our hearts no longer beat of their own accord, when our gaze no longer has depth or weight, when the space we occupy slowly loses its meaning.

The second death comes when the body is lowered into the ground, returned to mother earth, out of sight.

The third death, the most definitive death, is "when there is no one left alive to remember us."

The act of preparing an altar by placing photographs, flowers, candles, favorite foods and drink of the loved one provides a special time to remember, and to transform grief into acceptance.

The living invite the spirits of the family to return home for a few hours of laughter, tears and memories.

Once the night has passed, and the spirits have returned to their world, the ones remaining know that for another year they have triumphed in the struggle of life and that the only way to celebrate death is to live with courage.

Beware of the following superstitions of olde!

• Many people used to consider that owls would dive down to eat the souls of the dying on Halloween. They believed that if you pulled your own pockets out, and left them hanging, the dying would be safe. (Good to know, especially the next time you get caught with your pockets hanging out from the dryer!)

• To ward off evil spirits on Halloween, bury all the animal bones in your front yard, or even put a picture of an animal very close to your doorway. (I'll assume they mean collected wishbones and leftovers from Thanksgiving for the burials, and not those of anyone else, for the photos.)

• People used to believe you could walk around your house three times backwards before sunset on Halloween, and that would take care of all evil. (Next time you can't find the kids for dinner, remember you're keeping your family safe at the same time.)

• It has been said if a bat flies into your house on Halloween, it is a sign that ghosts or spirits are very nearer, and maybe they are in your home and let the bat in. (Living in the country, I've had bats in my house on several occasions. My friends claim they live in my own 'belfry', as well.)

• People used to believe that if bats are out early on Halloween, and they fly around playfully, then good weather is to come. (The bats in my belfry are beyond playful. I've been known to be borderline manic.)

• If a bat flies around your house three times on Halloween, death is very soon to come. (Doesn't this negate the good luck of the above?)

• It could be the spirit of a dead loved one watching you, if you watch a spider on Halloween. (And if you're watching, do so respectfully, and don't squish them!)

• Going in for what was once called a 'dumb' supper, meaning that nobody will talk while having supper, encourages the spirits to come to the table. (Well, not only is that term antiquated and not p.c., most families today with teenagers suffer from this predicament, so it's no wonder that most teenagers appear possessed.)

• It is believed that if an unmarried girl keeps a rosemary herb and a silver sixpence under her pillow on Halloween night, it is quite likely that on that very night, she would dream of her future husband. (If you have young daughter's, check their pillows tonight and remove those sixpence.)

• It is said that if you hear someone's footsteps behind you on the Halloween night, you should not turn back because it may be a dead following you. And if you commit the mistake of looking back, it is likely that you might join the dead very soon. (You just can't win on this one. I'm staying home and wearing ear plugs.)

• People believe that if on the Halloween night, a girl carrying a lamp in her hand goes to a spring of water, she will see the reflection of her life partner in water. (This sounds dangerous to me, especially if you believe in the superstition just above, and the one following you is already dead. Sure wouldn't want him for my life partner.)

• People have a superstition that if an unmarried girl carries a broken egg in a glass and takes it to a spring of water, she will be able to catch the glimpse of not just her future husband, by mixing some spring water in the glass, but also she can see the reflection of her future kids.

(OK, this is just too much. Now we are being followed by the dead, stuck with them for life and sharing common ghouls.)

• There is the old saying that "black cats are bad luck". It was once believed that black cats were the devil, or consumed by evil spirits. (I 've had several black cats, I loved them dearly, they slept with me every night. Time for an exorcism. Now, do I exorcise all black cats or just me?)

• People used to believe that Satan was a nut-gatherer. Nuts were also used as magic charms on the day of Halloween festival. (At this point, I'm feeling nutty. I think the exorcism has to be on me.)

• If you put your clothes on inside out as well as outside walk backwards on Halloween night. At midnight you will see a witch in the sky. People used to believe witches were the devil, or that they were consumed by evil. (I've been known to do both, on a fairly consistent basis. No wonder I run into so many witchy people and was gifted with a sign that says "If the broom fits, ride it"! It fit and I do.

• There is also an old saying "if the flame on your candle goes out on Halloween celebration; it gives you the meaning that you are with a ghost". (Stocking up on matches, lighters, and battery powered lanterns)

• If you ring a bell on Halloween it will frighten evil spirits away. (Ding!)


My own symbolic representation of this celebration. 

Our dining table set up with some of the traditional crepe paper roses, art cards and figurines as symbolic representations of both life and death, candles to light the way for the dead, goblets of water, candy, and packets of the salt.

By using symbolic items to represent the spirit of the dead, we honor them and their courage and ability to survive the physical world and live a life everlasting. 

We honor these days to symbolically keep the thin wall between us separated during the rest of the year. We remain safe in the present while we remember and honor the past.

Check out my blog post:

My  little trio of holiday flags, given as an October gift.  These simple burlap and felt banners can be seen as prayer flags for those in their colorful costumes and festive spirit and not those darker aspects of this season that so many shy away from. Mine is simply whimsical and fun and so truly easy to create!

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands