Crown and Bough

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Subversiveness of Halloween


A friend of mine told me she wasn't allowed to celebrate Halloween growing up, so now participating feels subversive.  That word landed like a dart in a target.  Isn't that just the thing?  A death-day turned into a festival, an inevitable grief turned into a celebration.  We dress up to mock--or scare--those very things that forbid us from going out into the night and go out despite (to spite?) them.  We look death in the face and say, "Be not proud.  You're not all that."  We wrap ourselves in the name of Christ (a garment far more real than a costume) and no harm will befall us.

I love love love Halloween.  It's intuitive and paradoxical, making up the pattern common to the ways of the Church.  And we need ghosts.  We need ghosts to whisper to us in the failing light that there is more to this world than meets the eye--that there is rhythm and reason (though perhaps not immediately obvious) in our existence, and if we embrace it it won't just make us happy; it'll bring us home.

Friday, 12 October 2018

A still, small voice



Then the LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD.  Behold, the LORD is about to pass by.”  And a great and mighty wind tore into the mountains and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a still, small voice.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

-- 1 Kings 19: 11-13

Never underestimate gentleness. There is so much power in being gentle.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Mabon



Between last Sunday and yesterday, we have put away our sandals and taken out or coats.  The Ember days have shut the door on the threshold of the season.  There is no going back now.  It is well and truly autumn.  Leaves turn like costume jewelry and the blackberries ripen in abundance.  Everywhere smells of woodsmoke, fairy fog, leafmeal, and dying summer.  I'm not prepared.  The autumn equinox, then, is a wake-up call for the sleepy summer dreamer.  The seagulls huddle in the wind on the roofs of houses.  A big raven overlooked us walking down from Mass.  The horse chestnut tree fans out its leaf-flames and is dropping conkers.  We feel the absence of light in the corners of evening, creeping in earlier and earlier.  Soon, the ghosts will wake up and moan noisily in the hollows.



Thursday, 20 September 2018

Blackberry-Picking



Blackberry-Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

by Seamus Heaney

Friday, 7 September 2018

First Day of Nursery



Roan came home with his cousin's Paw Patrol lunchbox and carried it around all day for the past few days, even sleeping with it.  He was so stoked to go to school yesterday, he made me put on his jumper; he even made a grand show of going into his bedroom all by my himself, telling me to turn out the light, kicking me out, and staying there for all of ten minutes!  He did not, of course, go to sleep in any reasonable time and was exhausted when we got him up this morning.  He took a nap right away when he came home at midday.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

First Day of School



Mama and Afon went for a special after-the-first-day-of-school outing.  2018-2019 is going to be a great year!  We can feel it!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Blackberry Fiend

The blackberries are ripening, and I pointed them out to Roan. What have I done! I've turned the {blackberry fool} into a blackberry fiend!  He's been stopping and stuffing them in at every opportunity.  I taught him to only pick the black ones.  And if we eat a bug or two, well, a little extra protein never harmed anyone.  All around us are the scents and sights of autumn.  Maybe we will have a real blackberry fool dessert this Michaelmas!