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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in apples

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Contract with Death

The island lies at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. To the Dakota, old in the land, it marked the Center of the World.

That's where we gather for Samhain.

In the river valley, the Sun sets early. By late afternoon, people have already begun to gather at the stone-built fire-hall, and kindled a fire in its central hearth. At sunset we close the doors.

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Mouldy grapes and the work after the harvest

Harvesting also means preserving. The traditional men’s work for the season – bringing it in – may be done, but the traditional women’s work of getting it to keep, is just starting. Drying, pickling, fermenting, jamming, canning, and storing are older methods, freezing and refrigerating more modern, but if you want your harvest to feed you until spring, you have to look after it.

I’m wine making this year, the ongoing work in the midst of which I have paused to blog. My mother’s grape harvest, of tiny, tart green grapes, must be plucked from stems, and the dodgy ones removed. It’s slow, fiddly, and throwing the right bits out is an important part of the proceedings.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Wassailing the Trees

One of the things that strikes me about pagan holidays is the way that they're all implicated in one another. Yule doesn't just sit enshrined in its own golden halo at the end of the year, touching nothing else. As both the end and the beginning of the solar year—and indeed, the whole of the coming year in microcosm—it reaches back to the previous growing season and harvest, and forward to the coming ones. They say that the Yule you keep affects the year ahead. That's why it's so important to eat rich and ample food during all Thirteen Days. The Devil promised a would-be witch in hunger-stricken 17th century Lowland Scotland, “Thou shalt eat every day as [well as] if it were Yule.”

A few years back a neighbor popped in for some reason or other during the Yuledays. “Beautiful tree,” she remarked. “Not the least bit Christmas-y.”

Well, no. It's covered with blown-glass fruits and vegetables. Every ornament's a prayer.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_appleblossoms2_sm.jpgThere is an apple tree on our family homestead that is about as old as my mom (80-90 years). The apples are thin skinned and yellow, but pleasantly tart and flavorful, and are perfect apple for sauce or baking. I’ve made more than one trip up to Maine specifically to catch the apples for sauce. Wasting them seems like sacrilege.

The tree grows out of the center of the stone wall the borders the property and has been becoming more and more top heavy while the trunk rots. Apple trees are very tough. As long as one thin strip of bark remains intact, the tree will continue to bare fruit. It needs only sun. Unlike annual vegetables, one cannot grow an identical apple tree from apple seeds. Apple DNA in the seed is diverse, and every new tree grown from apple seeds will be different.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Secret Heart of Samhain

I was picking apples one afternoon. I'd worked my way down the row into the oldest part of the orchard when suddenly, for just a moment, I began to wonder if somehow, like some character in a story, I had stumbled out of this world and into Another.

I don't know how much you know about apple trees. They say that originally they came to this world from the Other World. Whatever the truth of that may be, what I can tell you about the apple trees of this world is that they always bear flowers first; then come leaves, and later fruit. There's never a time when they bear all three at once. In this, they are said to be unlike the orchards of the Land of Youth, which in fact do just that. The undying trees of that Land, so they say, bear flower and leaf and fruit at once, all at a time, together. For in that Land, all times are one, with never any winter.

And that's just what I saw in the orchard that day.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Advent of Mabon

                                    Autumn is a good time for visiting;

                                    During its short days there is work for all...

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