Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May Faire

We had May Fair this week, I didn't see much other than the May Pole which is the best we've done. My youngest son's class did it, and the y did a wonderful job.

 I was busy doing a pewter casting demo. It's getting better, but we need to kick it up a notch.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I didn't really notice until I started hearing people complaining about it. But, that's the true test of whether something has got people's attention, isn't it? Oddly to me, this year as fat Tuesday and Carnival approached, most of the chatter was of people talking about Lent. I expect that people talk about Mardi Gras, or partying. But this year was hopeful talk of Lent. And not just the Christians. People of various faiths, or no faith did as well. I thought this was odd, until I started talking to them. I began to realize that the roots of Lent go deep. Not just in our culture but in people in general. I think that Lent just fits with the natural rhythm of late winter.

My view of Great Lent is bound with my faith. Lent is a time of preparation. It is a time of reflection. But it is to often divorced from its wider rhythm. The cycle of Carnival, Lent and Easter is a great and beautiful rhythm. What use are the excesses of Mardi Gras/Carnival if they are not the followed by the austerity of Lent? What use is the austerity of Lent if it does not prepare us for the despair of Holy Week and the Crucifixion? What use of that despair if finally the joy of Easter is not realized?

Historically, in northern countries at least, it comes at a time when precious winter stores, traditionally gathered at harvest and slaughter, are getting starting to get low. In carnival everything that will be given up is cleared out. What is to be given up? Things that spoil. Eggs, Dairy, uncured meat. In anticipation and fear of the strictures of Lent, we have one of the wonderful inversion festivals I love so well. But this is not the time for a meditation on the carnival and inversion. I mention it, because without it, Lent loses something.

Anyway, for whatever reason that you observe Great Lent, or not, best wishes to you.

Valentine's Day

The original title I thought of for this blog was 'better next time'. It was conceived as a way to assess family and community festivals, figure out how they could be improved and document those for the next year.

This Valentine's Day, was one such festival. We met with several friends at the Farm School Yurt. There were problems and triumphs.

I'll start with the triumphs. First, we organized a get together in a short time, with minimal budget, and had a blast. I brought a few anvils, and we made industrial valentines with kids out of copper and aluminum. One family brought a dog sled and the kids all got rides and to drive the sled.

Now the problems and how we could have overcome them.

The trip to the yurt was long. For must of us who showed up without snowshoes, skis, or a dog sled it was a slog through waist-high snow.
The Yurt was warm, but not nearly light enough.
I did not show up until 5:20 pm, even though the start of the event was 4:00pm. I didn't feel this was a problem, as I work 'till five. Some parzents who do not have set work schedules felt this was inappropriate on my part.
Toward the end of the evening it was to dark to beat on metal.

Several things could have been done to fix this. A trip up to the Yurt the day before could have assessed the snow issues, and ascertained that we would have needed better candles to light the yurt. I could have beeter communicated when I would be getting there. And finally, I need several lanterns and poles to enable outside work ater dark.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Festivals of the Waldorf Year

St. Nicholas Day
Santa Lucia
Shepherds Play
May Day
St. John's Day

Friday, November 18, 2011


The feast of St. Martin. St. Martin of Tours is an enigma to me. Personally I find little in his Vita that is compelling. But he had a huge following, and is really one of the most beloved of the late Roman western saints. It surprised me when I discovered that his feast was celebrated in our school. Last year in first grade, my son made a Laterna. The rest of the family made some to go with it and we went on a Lantern walk. Not that everything went smoothly. We attempted to go to a lantern walk at a friends Church, but we missed connections with them. We salvaged the evening walking around our town green. This year we started earlier and made gorgeous laterna, but our walk was beset by similar problems. Martinmas came and went as we weathered a huge windstorm. And this evening, when the wind finally died down, we beat the bounds of our property, lanterns in hand.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Equinox / Harvest Home

The Fall Equinox has come and gone. The sun has passed the midpoint in its waning, and soon the days will be short and cold. Salmon has been in the freezer for a month. And it is time to make our final harvests as it will be frosting any day. Two weeks ago we slaughtered some sheep, and yesterday, three pigs. We have harvested our garden, and found a meager potato crop, a decent carrot crop, and a bounty of peas. It is time to prepare for fall and winter festivals, and the long meditation of the cold months.

The traditional  British calendar  is rather silent on the subject of the equinoxes, but there are other observances around this time. St. Michael's Day, or Michaelmas is but a week away, a feast that deserves a post of its own. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and anniversary of the creation of the world occurs near the Equinox, begins this year at sundown on Sep. 28th. Orthodox Christianity follows a similar Anno Mundi approach and commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the world as Sept. 1, which also marks the beginning of the liturgical calendar. Alaska, being somewhat special in American Orthodoxy follows the old (Julian) calendar, so these are commemorated on Sept. 14.

A moveable feast, Harvest Home, is also traditional this time of year. Harvest Home was generally celebrated after the final cereal harvest of the year, which until mechanized farming changed things,  occured toward the end of August. It has been suggested that this would have been the boundary for the old pagan Saxon 'Halig Monath' (Holy Month/September) that was described by Bede. It was generally celebrated with the bringing in of the last sheaf of wheat, the making of corn dollies, and  a dinner for farm laborers. Wiccans and some other neo-Pagans combine the Fall Equinox and Harvest Home into the fixed date celebration of Mabon.

At the fall equinox we generally make a raked leaf labyrinth. We follow it and maintain it until Michaelmas, and use it for our Michaelmas observances.

As we do not have a cereal crop, we celebrate harvest home with a dinner when we bring in the final produce of our garden. This year our Harvest Home was this evening. No corn dollies this year, but we had a wonderful dinner of pork ribs, potatoes, peas and carrots from our garden, and to top it off a wonderful carmel apple crisp for desert. A source of pride, the only ingredients that we did not grow or harvest ourselves were flour, sugar, and salt.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our May Day

We had a good May Day. While it should have been a communal celebration we had some family observances and a day of work with some May Games.

Snow is finally gone, and the yard is dry enough to work. When raked, the ground promises green, but the trees still have not displayed the leaf mist of early summer. It is time to force children into work and to bring in the May Games to make it fun.

Speeding the Plow, and the May Games were communal May activities that celebrated feats of agricultural work such as plowing contests among young men. Our May games revolved around contest of making the biggest leaf piles and running baskets of leaves to the chicken coop.

We made a maypole, and the four of us danced and wove and left it there.

After that, a goose dinner from last year's harvest. Laura made a truly sumptuous May Day feast of roast goose, corn, and stuffed mushrooms.

lastly we jumped the fire, split the fire into two pieces, and drove the livestock (in our case a dog and some chickens) between them.

In all a glorious and exhausting start to summer.

But that's not all, for the May games continue at the end of the week as we have plow day for the local antique tractor association (to feed my inner steampunk), and our school's May Fair to attend on Saturday. More on that when we get there.