Late Autumn Morning

Central Texas had a wintry blast this past week. Temperatures dropped into the 20s at night and struggled to climb into the high-30s in the afternoon. On Wednesday morning Claire and I, sick of being cooped up, braved the chill to go a-walkin’.

Frozen over bird bath.

Frost on the cabbage leaves

Can zombie basil survive the winter? My guess is yes. We'll see in the spring!

Creek bed (Niana), October 2011

Niana, December 2011

The branches have been empty since October. Now, due to the rain, some are budding out again like it's spring.

White winter sun.

Long shadows, even near noon.

Grandmother Moon

I know that the traditional names for the August Moon are Barley Moon, Corn Moon, Red Moon and such. As of yesterday I titled this post ‘Corn Moon’ after a little protection charm I made. However, today, as J and I set off to buy a chest freezer and I had just finished a batch of jam I knew that I really celebrated my grandmother during this esbat.

Last night, I did a small ritual. I blended up some Solar Protection Oil (is that weird on a Full Moon…eh? Whatever) and had a sheaf of corn that I had dried and wanted to charm for the house/as a harvest decoration. I plan to find a place for it to hang, perhaps at the beginning of September.

Solar Protection Oil: Orange, Pine, Rosemary and Patchouli blended with Sweet Almond Oil

Dried Corn Sheaf Blessed with Protection Oil

The above isn’t the best picture–many apologies, my corn sheaf isn’t photogenic 😉 (That sentence made me laugh.)

Anyway…I woke up this morning and prepared to make my first jam, ever! I’ve never canned before and was extremely nervous. The whole idea of botulism kind of freaked me out. I didn’t want to shell out money for the equipment before I knew if I even liked it, so I took some pointers from this website about how to can without the equipment. I did buy jars, though (she recommends reusing jars). When I pulled them out of the package, much to my delight, they were the same quilted pattern my grandmother had used when she canned.  I hadn’t noticed when I put them in the shopping cart earlier that week.

Mixed Berry Jam with Allspice, Clove, Nutmeg and Ginger

Mmmm. Jam. Lots of finger swiping.

After I set the jam to seal and cool, J and I decided to make a purchase we’ve talked about for a long time: a chest freezer. We have visions of buying a side of grass-fed beef (anyone want to split one if I can find a provider this late in the season…anyone?) and preserving our garden harvest. So, today, we decided to do that.

Not to get sentimental about an appliance, but one of the things I remember most vividly about my grandmother’s house was her chest freezer in the garage. It held all sorts of yummy things, like a plethora of half gallons of Blue Bell ice cream (Tin Roof, Rocky Road, Pecan Praline and the best…Homemade Vanilla). Blue metal utility shelves lined the back wall of the garage, filled to the brim with preserved veggies from their garden, jam and, most importantly, apple butter.

Oh, gods, the apple butter. That will definitely be happening this year.

Anyway, as I set about doing all of these harvest-y, homey type tasks I felt so, so close to my grandmother. She hasn’t passed over yet, but she turned 90 this year and lives under the care of my parents. It’s hard to see her age as she was the matriarch of the family, the rope that bound our family together during some truly harrowing times. Honoring her this moon, remembering her, acting as she taught me to act: to preserve, to be frugal, to make a home, to tell stories, to laugh—is truly a blessing I won’t soon forget.

Summer

Summer is…

Ripe tomatoes.

Pests.

The promise of sweet corn.

Going to the beach. And, if you’re C, eating sand.

Seeing extraordinary things, like a sea turtle release.

Summer is here, no doubt. This Pagan house (as in my literal home) is in a bit of a disarray, but it almost seems normal with the heat of summer descending on us to have an adjustment period. The brief spring is over and the season of (wild)fire has begun.

Litha/Midsummer has been on my mind lately. I’m not sure what to do to celebrate it. Last year, heavily pregnant, I went around town and snapped pictures. This year I’d like to do something a bit more formal.  I think what I have to work out is what summer, heat, fire actually means to me. I much prefer autumn and winter, so this is a bit of a mysterious holiday. I’m taking note of the weather especially, as it’s been odd this year (especially the constant gusty winds!).

What are your plans for the summer? What does Midsummer mean to you?

Wild yarrow growing in my backyard.

Beltane 2011

Sunflowers for Beltane and offering

Beltane Diffuser Oil: 2 drops Bergamont, Neroli, Rosemary and 4 drops Lemon

Farmer's Market bounty: squash, blueberries, beets, chicken, locally made chocolates

Blue Herons spotted on May Day morning walk

Spring dressing, May Day morning

Beltane feast: roast chicken, gravy, squash casserole, biscuits, green salad, blackberries and cream

Blackberries and cream...life just doesn't get much better!

I performed two small rituals. One, on Saturday, was to honor my marriage and boost creativity in the coming season. The second, on Sunday night, was a seasonal Tarot reading that I’ll post more on later. The oddest thing happened on Sunday. For the past two months Central Texas has been simply sweltering. Temperatures already almost in the hundreds. But on May Day, a cold front blew through and now it’s (almost) drizzling, cold and grey.  A potent reminder that no matter what the season the previous one, and the next, are never that far away. Gotta love Mother Nature, right?

All in all, a calm and blessed Beltane. I hope everyone’s was the same 🙂