Happy Mabon, somewhat belatedly.
My family always gets Mabon and May Day confused. I can see why--I keep wanting to spell it Maybon. But living here, immersed in these celebrations, I don't mix them up. I mean, I know it is September and not May right now.
It was a glorious day for a celebration--clear blue sky, a bit of crisp in the air, just cold enough for winter-weight uniforms but not for the capes and the mosquito season is finally over. The trees haven't started turning yet, except for some of the maples have a hint of color at the tips, like they're thinking about it.
The winter squashes are coming in now, and the potatoes and the fall apples and pears. The popcorn will be in soon and, before too long Brussel's sprouts. We haven't had a frost yet, so we're still getting huge numbers of tomatoes and summer squash. It's a huge amount of food, most of it going into storage for the winter, so the farm staff is busy drying and canning and everything. It's not just vegetables, either--after the mostly vegetarian summer, meat is back on the menu. We don't have much milk left, but the last batch of hens has just started to lay so we'll have plenty of eggs again soon--and another chicken feast.
Charlie has started bringing in deer, two already, and I think he plans to get four or five more this year, plus a few turkeys. I haven't hunted with him again, but I helped him butcher one of the deer. I have gone out with Rick once or twice when he was hunting, but he didn't get anything either time. Between the two of them they plan to get maybe four or five more, and Joy is going to start killing lambs and kids soon. She never does all of them at once--only one at a time, on weeks when Charlie doesn't get a deer. Aside from one feast the day the animal dies, most of the meat gets smoked or dried and that takes time. We don't have refrigerators or freezers on campus.
It feels like Fall, and it doesn't feel like Fall started just on the equinox, either. I guess I'm slowly coming around to Kit's way of looking at things.
As I've said before, for the Fall Equinox we have a variety of holiday activities, instead of one central series of events. You can't go to all of them because some happen at the same time. The most popular one is probably the gratitude circle. You stand in a big circle and take turns thanking each other--you hand the person a ball of yarn and keep your end so that a strand of yarn connects you across the circles. Then the person you handed the yarn to has a turn to thank someone and eventually you end up with a big tangle of yarn connecting everybody. The yarn is donated from the weaver who makes our blankets and everything--it's all the yarn that wasn't spun right by trainees. We keep it and use the big tangle to start a ritual fire in February.
Anyway, the first year I did the gratitude circle. Last year I did the Thankyou Doll build instead, with Sarah and Charlie, but this year I was back at the gratitude circle. Kit led it--my first year Allen did, but both were there both times. As I'd expected, Allen's younger daughter, Alexis, now has the job of running the yarn between us and attaching new balls of yarn when the old one runs out.
Alexis is six now, going on seven in a few months. Maybe it's doing the gratitude circle again after two years, which sort of leads to comparing everybody with how they were last time I did this, but for some reason it's really struck me how much she's grown. When I met her she was a toddler.
I shouldn't be surprised, I mean, time passes, that's what it does. But it does surprise me--how much difference a few years makes for the children around here.
All the Sprouts were on campus for the holiday, and there were fewer of them than there used to be. Mary and Sequoia Ackerman-Hill, Charlie's grand-nieces, and Allen's older kids, David and Julie, they're all gone. Kayla used to seem like she wanted to still be a Sprout, not a student, but she seems used to being a teenager now. And none of the faculty or students have had kids in the last three years, so the Sprouts as a group are getting older.
But there is a new one.
My brother and his wife want their kids to be Sprouts, so they gave me my nephew for the day. He's 13 months old, so he's walking around and can say a few words (but only when he's alone with his parents) and really hard to keep an eye on. And I am not at all used to being in charge of a toddler, I'm probably forget to feed him or something if someone didn't remind me, but fortunately there are a lot of people around him to help me look out for him.
I knew I wouldn't be able to keep track of him while wrapped up in bunch of yarn at the gratitude circle, so I gave him to Charlie for a while. He really likes little kids. But that means that my nephew was the youngest person at the Thankyou Doll build. That made it his job to listen to hear if the Doll was awake. And he must have done it because now the Doll is sitting in state in the Great Hall, surrounded by offerings.
I wonder what, exactly, my nephew heard?