Senses stir, ruffled fur; a bird floats on a thermal, lifting its wings.
A breath of air, a scent on the wind. A salty tang, an ozone explosion.
Fragile leaves, a changing song. A sultry breeze; ripples on a pond.
A falling feather, forgotten bones. A place where one feels the need for silence.
A chill on the skin… ancestral walks with kin.
Trees whisper words, no longer understood
in the forgotten language
…in the dappled light
…in the sacred wood
…in the dreaming pool
As autumn creeps up on us, fragility is obvious in the landscape, alongside great abundance and the clear light of a changing season.
There are moments in a day when things become translucent…when light falls specifically on one blade of grass, a water droplet, a bee’s wing, ripples on a pond, a fragile leaf… the world slows, stills… and the white noise of the world, falls away.
All that is left, is the ebb and flow of life… a heartbeat song.
Walk softly… let things flow towards and away… Awen /|\
A rose, saturated with morning dew, begins to become transparent… barely there.
Harvest time, Dahlia time. Wild berries abound in the hedgerows; elder, blackberry, hawthorn and rowan… picked when ripe, they leave stains on fingers and lips.
Chestnut and hazel, begin to show prickly green and crunchy brown casings, hiding their magical fruit within. It’s always a battle for even a few as possum, currawong, raven, gang gang and cockatoo are all alert for the right moment of ripening.
Rosehips form on the rump of fading flowers, holding their seeds close in the waxy pod… soon they’ll become syrup and balm; the former for sweet treats rich in vitamin C, the latter for soothing, dry tender skin.
Wild berries will become syrup for the pantry, (a wee drop in a honey mead, warmed through, is a winter delight for the circulation), jams, relishes, fruit tarts or macerated to make tinctures for the herbal apothecary.
Nothing is wasted and only just what is needed is taken, leaving food for hungry maws and mouths.
Walk softly… let things flow towards and from… Awen /|\
The wheel turns… summer has been all too short but already, trees are changing colour, elderberry, hawthorn and blackberries are ripening in the hedgerows…
She changes her gown
as the year grows old from russet to amber
…green to gold She’s the lady of the harvest
for all living things in the hedgerows and forests
a rich bounty She brings He changes His cloak
as She changes Her gown they dance at Lammas’ hay wain
‘til in sacrifice He’s cut down yet they dance on and on
as the falling leaves twirl through the mossy glades, twilight
to the pipes sobbing skirl that breaks through the silence
of a darkening year then on toward Mabon
the crisp air becomes clear On they dance toward Samhain
the ancestors awake and the Wild Hunt comes riding
the years’ fallen to take through the veil brightly gleaming
long hair darkly streaming and the hound’s wild belling
cause the forests to shake on and on yet they dance
to Yule’s last long dark day the light becomes stronger
yet Jack Frost’s still at play but on they dance toward Imbolc
as the first lambs are born ever onward to bright Ostara
the sun’s rays become warm then when May blossoms open
their honey perfumes the air step abroad as the sun rises
to make a wreath for your hair for here at the rite of Beltane
their dance flames with bright joy and folk may later harvest
…a girl or a boy On to Litha they dance
sweet berries flavour the wine the sun’s power reaches zenith
and will slowly decline On the breeze, you’ll hear Her singing in the thunder His rumbling mirth when they call us we’ll dance with them In circle spinning
…Death to Rebirth
Circle Dance… is featured in my Silver Threads series, available from beyondthegatebypenny.etsy.com
I do love this time of year when things are so busy on the farm with harvesting and preserving, drying, freezing, etc., but it seems as if summer forgot us, all but for a few days of warm, balmy air.
Although it’s been some years since Lady, as I named the rescue Spotted Harrier, who flew into an open, (not ususally but I was cleaning), glass door… and yet here she is! She recovered well and was released back into the wild from here but as said, after a few years she stopped visiting and I assumed her gone but she returned for a short visit the other day… she looks me straight in the eyes and I feel the affinity I felt when I picked her up, semi conscious on the day of her injury. Look at the intelligence and the directness of her gaze… I’m completely in love, all over again, with this beautiful wild spirit.
Other wild spirits, roam aplenty… this beauty is a loner for some reason but doesn’t appear injured, so perhaps simply ageing. The old, infirm, the rogues and the misfits, seem to find us up here… and being somewhat a loner myself, I relate to the need for the hermitage… in fact I’m tempted to change the name of the farm to just that.
Meanwhile, within the changes in nature and as we move towards the darker half of the year, things are moving along with renovations to our old barn-house (we actually now have a laundry!) and to the wee studio pod that will be my studio very soon…
Lughnasadh is past and a beautiful new moon hung suspended… the grain and hay harvest are in and daily, fresh berries are brought to the table…
In my current wee space in the corner of the dining room, work is afoot for a forthcoming exhibition in early April… commissioned work is flowing in and I’m beginning to feel more grounded and centred after being extraordinarily unwell. Autumn’s early arrival is the source of this creative burst… things come to fruition, the pantry and freezer fill with both wild and cultivated foods… soon hazelnuts and apples, wild blackberries and our own raspberries and strawberries will be made into preserves or syrups, even frozen for wee treats like fruit tarts or mousse, for dessert and smoothies for breakfast.
I’ll get around to posting some recipes here soon, and not only food, rather ink and dye processes and herbals, too. I’m still in the organisational stage of returning to blog writing; with so much else going on, it had to take a back seat… but at least, here I am back in the writing saddle!
Life moves on again as the wheel turns… my latest book, Poetry for Wild Spirits, is “out there”, my non-fiction offering, Wild Spirits is in draft form and two novels in a new series are growing daily… they continue my Silver’s Threads series but will be complete in themselves, simply tying in with some of the characters. Look out for the first in the new series Cloak of Magick around mid year, Song to a Green Moon.
Sing to the green-moon
with joyful intent
Gather pellucid moon drops
…to replenish flowers spent
Revive a failing tree with herbs that heal
Wear Her Cloak of Magicks
all truths to reveal
All ways of Magick
are hid ‘neath Her cloak
Gather waning, green-moon drops
add water and soak
…the dying and the wounded
under Mother Elm’s green boughs
But we warn you
stay clear of woodlands
…with metal tools and plough
Art, as said, is taking on the warm tones of autumn for a new exhibition… Autumn Illuminations a new mixed media series on cotton canvas, using my own inks and dyes, eco-cloth and paper and lovely textured substances layered in between. I’ll post dates for this ehibit soon, should you be in the locale. I’d love to see you there…
Until the next time… walk softly…
Penny at Beyond the Gate Studio
All text, poetry and images are copyright, Penny Reilly, all rights reserved.
Twenty three days into 2023 and sorry, I’ve been absent from blog writing recently, due to a few health issues and other, time consuming things, such as publishing my ninth book, Poetry for Wild Spirits.
I’ll be honest… the last year was tough on several fronts for everyone, so saying goodbye wasn’t hard.
There was a very late start to summer but the rain brought in a huge hay harvest, for which farmers are always grateful but, as you can see, the landscape is already preparing itself for an early autumn. We wake to misty mornings and cool temperatures although it’s only recently, Alban Hefin/Summer Solstice/Litha. Longest day seems to have begun the sudden careening toward autumn, before any significant summer weather.
Wee alpine strawberries are multiplying, wild blackberries are in flower and slowly berries will ripen to give winter fruit, dried and frozen. The first raspberry harvest has been wonderful and as hawthorn, rowan and elderberries begin to ripen early too, same applies, with the apothecary stocked with weather medicines from nature.
In the orchard, apples and pears hang in pairs and multiples, fattening and ripening fast with all the ‘Europeanesque’ weather we’re experiencing. I don’t think I’ve ever known a summer morning, starting at 5 degrees.
Truth be told, I feel right at home with memories upsurging from my UK country childhood, running wild through wet grasses but sadly, our promising cherry crop had too much water and not enough sunshine to ripen them… possum had a ball but I hope they don’t have belly ache from all the unripe cherries. Tiny seedling cherry trees are already setting roots, where Ms Possum, dropped the seeds.
Everywhere glistens with dew droplets and the scent on the air is of soil, much and ozone.
Even hazelnut trees are laden early with their little packages of bon-bon style cases… these will be roasted or ground into a course powder for cake making.
Storm birds returned to stalk amongst the tall grasses and reeds, hunting frogs and bugs, digging their long bills into the sodden soil like spears.
Storm clouds gather daily but often circle around us, giving just a little more rain than the ground can hold but still, with tanks and waterways, ponds and dams full to overflowing, we never complain for this is the life blood of the land.
Slowly but surely, after all the delays through covid lockdown and wet weather, my little studio is taking shape, delightfully. Today, the last coat of oil goes on and we’re waiting for the tiler to return to do the floor. Then I can begin to move in and the electrician, coming back to install the PowerPoints and lighting etcetera, will have to work around me… I’m all done waiting!
Meanwhile, squashed in the corner of the dining room, my work continues for the next collaborative art exhibition in early April… autumn themed, which just happens to be my favourite palette of colour.
It’s wonderful to be able to put to use the eco inks I made from various berries and leaves, this time last year.
As they begin to take shape, I’m finding my stride. Although health issues slowed me down for quite some time, I’m beginning to feel inspired again…
And so… we head at a frighteningly fast pace on the downward slide toward the dark half of the year, barely having lifted our eyes from the last one. In just a couple of weeks it will be Lughnasadh/Lammas but our hay and grain harvest has already been gathered in a little earlier than usual.
Extraordinary sunsets and sunrises… weather patterns are pure insanity and we can’t ignore the facts of climate change, staring us in the face.
What are you doing to help combat this?
Do you think it’s too late and we’re doomed?
What are your visions for future generations or are you someone who says… oh well, I won’t be here in xxx amount of years and so pay it all forward?
I thought to add this as I begin to communicate again in blog form, a year and a day of this land-loving life of mine, about how things can be grown, preserved and how to have a pantry groaning with foods that you love, without necessarily all the pickling, fermenting and bottling, that is often too time consuming for the average household in the daily workforce and who don’t live on an off-grid farm in the wilds of the Victorian highlands. We have the advantage of solar power and perhaps soon, a little wind turbine will be the booster, rather than a generator for winter days to help charge the batteries, so for us, freezing and dehydrating foods are good options unless you really love fermented or pickled foods.
I would like to know how one would live on jars of pickles, relishes and chutney, no matter how yummy they may be, however as I watch trends of the in things unfold, rather than easily grown or readily available bulk foods. No matter where you live, it’s always possible to find a market to buy seconds (aesthetically unpleasing to the fussy eye, due to hail damage etc.) in the way of fruit and vegetables or big bags of grains, bread mixes and so on and turn them into staples for your pantry. Even if you don’t have a garden, it’s possible to beat inflation with bulk buying foods, someone else has grown and perhaps using a verandah or a sunny kitchen bench spot for growing fresh herbs, salad greens and micro sprouts.
All of the plants above will grow for you in pots too, even if you only have a tiny verandah on your apartment… a whole wall of growing things is easy to construct for very little.
Another fun thing to do, is for a group of like-minded souls, to take it in turns to share power costs and food/goods and to spend a kitchen day, processing storables for the pantry.
There are so many ways to make these practical, saving solutions work for you, despite a busy working life…
…and so my thoughts, having strayed in this direction, would love to hear about your dreams, goals and how you are tackling the world at large these days?
What are your dreams for the world and for your family, friends and even those across the oceans in war-torn, drought or flood ridden countries?
Where do you go in your dreams
Are you sure you’re awake
Do you follow your heart
or react for reacting’s sake
Where are you, when you’re dreaming
Is it a peaceful place
Do you travel to lands of beauty
to a sacred, greening space
How do you feel in the morning
are you truly here
or are you really still dreaming
’til small whispers of truth appear
Do you dream of a journey
Do you know where to
Is it long and exciting
In the dream are you still, you
Does it feel like a memory
written deep in your cells
to an island of apples
and a deep, icy well
Who travels with you
or are you alone
Do you feel you are lost
or are you travelling home…
…with warm wishes and blessings from Beyond the Gate Studio
Poetry for Wild Spirits can be purchased from the author by travelling to…
Recent floods and freak, storm weather has made us all the more aware of the changing climate. With all but a few scattered days of sunshine, spring has been a myth… although that said and despite zero degrees, nature is taking care of business; she operates by the length of daylight rather than the staged calendar cycles imposed on humanity.
Wild hedgerows are full of nesting birds… crabapple blossom has been and gone but will possibly be scant in fruit as it was too cold for the bees to be out.
Elderflower are just budding now… late for this area but the harvest will eventually be huge, now a few sunny days have arrived.
Finally… apple, pear, cherry and plum are in blossom and wild herbs are making an appearance again. Daffodil, narcissus and now bluebells and harebells are everywhere and the bees are finally out and about.
Wild ducks are chaparoning their wee flocks to ponds and dams, wandering along the trenches we dug to allow the flow of water away from our barn-house… a lone swamp hen trundles along behind… he’s elderly and not eligible for another mate the young, constantly chase him off now.
We were honoured by the visit of a pair of native black ducks… usually only the male drops in, once or twice a year but htis year he has brought his mate.
Life beyond the gate has been misted in and mystical… like an overlay of another time and space… sounds muted… nothing but the drip, drip of water from trees and the haunting call of a brush cuckoo.
It is heard in the sigh of whispering trees …in the notes of the calling sent on a breeze Deep within you can hear A magickal song Deep within, through the doorway where there’s no right nor wrong If you’re quiet …truly listen hear the notes swell and dip through the rush of the ocean or the rain as it drips from each branch that bends with the weight of rain or in the soft scent of evening that dulls sharpened pain Along the Crooked Pathway turning left and then right you’ll hear soft singing to the moonrise at night Deeper still and you’ll hear music at the gateway in the West from the land of all dreaming where you complete your life’s quest and then onward, listen …you’ll find your own thread in a single note that sparkles removing the dread for nothing is dying only reaching its peak In the depths… in Her darkness …are the symphonies you seek
Activities begin to pick up in both farm life and in the studio… my ninth book, Poetry for Wild Spirits, was published last month and has been selling well and so will become the accompanying volume to Wild Spirits the work in progress currently… snippets of this will be posted here in my blog soon.
Alongside the farm/garden work and writing are commissioned art works that came out of the blue to stimulate my creativity, no end… three small watercolour pieces and my biggest work yet… a mixed media of huge dimension, that I honestly am quite nervous about starting, so I’ll sit awhile with the blank canvas and the theme requested and then we’ll see what is visualised and hopefully, manifested.
All is a work in progress… nature, art, writing, photography, publishing… all keep me busy and prosperous on one level or another… all is in balance at Beyond the Gtae Farm and Studio…
Poetry for Wild Spirits and Penny’s 8 other books are available, directly through her and on Amazon for the Epub/kindle edition. Wholesale enquiries can be made to Ingram Publishing.
All text, poetry and art/photography is copyright the author, Penny Reilly.
The ocean tides, whittle away at the shoreline as we wear away our lives, often in needless struggles for understanding.
As children, we fight to maintain our identity until parental expectation, educational institutions and peer pressures, whittle away at our personality, character and psyche until we’re swamped, drowning, in other’s expectations of how they perceive we should be.
Letting go of guilt-induced reactions to how others respond to our internal change, can be like running a marathon… but when does the adult self, stop apologising for who they are, despite the constant inner and outer critique.
This is the pivotal moment, when we can realise, we are in fact, our inner parent or teacher, continuing to hear and be instructed by the echo of their physical counterparts instead of learning to simply be ourselves.
The thing is… nature doesn’t judge how we behave, how we express ourselves or criticise who we intrinsically are, with or without societies trappings, just as a daisy doesn’t wish to be a rose.
Nature doesn’t judge the leaves falling, leaving branches bare or new leaves budding, on near-naked limbs.
Life in all its ages and stages is a precious gift so why waste it, desiring to be something we were not designed to be?
Life, when delved into, without agenda is a rich, fulfilling and never to be repeated, journey… grasp it… dive in…
Hollowing out emptying seeking the purpose of life in simply being Giving up the fight for more allows unhindered flow Just living Simply being with no place left to go Past present future merges the well of life upsurges the wheel spins on and round All places all seasons emerge as sacred ground
Winter arrived with a boom… days of autumn sunshine and colour one day and the white out of snow from out of nowhere… brrrr, -3°.
Still… winter brings introspection and Yule, deep into the cold and dark days… brings hope because we know, underground movement will be afoot… green shoots unfurling to break through the icy crust. When I close my eyes, I imagine them slumbering, waiting and with animism, perhaps anticipating, how the light will feel on their green sprouts… sunlight, pulling on them, tugging them to reach up to the light after the darkness beneath.
I do love to connect in this way to the earth and all things by knowing I am a part of it all as it is all a part of me… all of me…
Life is a moment and in that moment, all moments exist. Life can appear fleeting or be forever in full consciousness. There is no separation between who we once were in the scheme of things, are now or will be “one day”, for all is now.
Complex thoughts, and yet not, unless one thinks in straight lines, past, present, future rather than in circles, and cycles of ascension and descension… expansion and contraction. There again, perhaps that is the challenge, overthinking. Does nature think, “I’m a daisy; I wanted to be a rose.” Does an amber-coloured leaf in autumn, wish to be green again?
One droplet of water, part of a sea, a lake a pond?
Observing nature, we see there are few straight lines, except those we create. Nothing is linear. Droplets of water constantly change shape to adapt and, are a part of a greater body, ocean or small pond. If we understand everything is energy in constant motion, where there is a void space, something always rushes to fill it and, there is no judgment in the process.
When we become aware, strength lies in the allowance of emptiness and in not filling empty spaces. In this knowing, we can choose substance to fill the void, and in fact always do, even by not choosing. Waiting, empty, gives us clarity to know what we truly desire. I speak not of “having” for the sake of it …because it’s the most recent fad or gadget, but more the awareness, “being in emptiness” can bring. It has its own taste, smell, sound, sensation and there is nothing to fear there, except the proverbial, fear itself.
My waking and sleeping moments, fill with the rhythm and scent of nature’s cycles rather than the tick-tock of the business world. Although that said, I run my own studio… one has to live, but the key is to find the ultimate balance between the perceived mundane and the “spiritual life” …and there we have it – everything is spirit/energy, and therefore, spiritual.
Our natural state of being is magick Moving between full, exhilarant joy and oft, comedy tragic Spaces between filled with liquid notes sublime in cycles spinning adhering to the rhyme Diaphonous, silken threads on the loom of time fading in and out annual, biannual, diurnal We are but a blip in life eternal
Whether at work to earn our living, pottering in the garden or soaking in a bath, changing a nappy or holding someone’s hair back as they vomit… whether it’s a perceived, inanimate object or a living, breathing tree, all is energy and thus spirit/spiritual.
All energy is in motion constantly, in waves and pulses, just as our body is in flow and flux, birth to death, with each waxing and waning moon. We are ultimately 78% fluid, and our body is at the mercy of those internal and exterior tides unless we can be observant, present in awareness as those tides turn. Thus, we can see ourselves not as helpless puppets, but empowered by those very tides, toward the shores of creative consciousness
If we can reconnect to nature’s cycles, movements, brief pauses, breath held and let go… a beating heart, a pulse within myriad pulses, we simply become. Every cell becomes luminous with cell-wisdom-memory of everything experienced, and in the remembering, remembers Source…
Sow the seeds Weave the web in time Weave sow Grow wisdom knowledge of the life stream and the soul spark of intelligence …breathe All one Awen
It’s been longer than I expected to post but it’s strange times that govern the planet recently!
Winter makes progress… all our senses are involved… a welcomed change in government and a feeling of relief imbues every social media post with hope, even joy.
Here at the farm, we begin our journey inward… days are shortening as we head towards Yule… dark by 5.00 pm and not light until after 7.00 am. Hearth fires are lit… candles for the ancestors… small gatherings with hot soup and crusty bread around a bonfire or fire pit… we begin to mellow into the coming cold.
Hollowing out emptying seeking the purpose of life in simply being Giving up the fight for more allows unhindered flow Just living Simply being with no place left to go Past present future merges the well of life upsurges the wheel spins on and round All places all seasons emerge as sacred ground
In the studio… a tight fit in the corner of the dining room, while waiting for the building materials to arrive… not long now before I have a grown-up artist’s space and eventually a little gallery too. I say grown-up but really, I feel like a wee kidding waiting for Yule to arrive.
Work continues though, in both farm greenhouse and studio… kasundi is made from surplus tomatoes… filling the house with spicy aromas… alongside the aforementioned soup of curried parsnip and pear 🍐
Nothing much goes to waste and what scraps are left, the worms, chookhens and Pip the terrier will finish off.
In the studio, I’m finishing off several ink and watercolour pieces… I discovered gel pens too… such fun in earthy tones or stark white… and metallics in silver, copper, bronze and gold… also invested in a few distress sprays… a work in progress!
Next will be more ink making experimentation, trying out new plant matter from local herbs and playing with eco printing, after a lovely workshop a month or so, ago.
All in all, quiet times, in terms of season and knuckling down with work… the book needs attention too but I’ve been distracted by world events…
I’ll settle soon as the shortest, darkest day approaches…
Life is awareness Layers of being Birth to death seeing renewal of life Excepting all things pass some wide-eyed on sweet green grass effortlessly fearlessly the last breath’s hiss releasing …we can learn from this
Warm wishes and blessings from Beyond the Gate… Awen /|\
As we move through autumn and into winter, the robins arrive to foretell imminent snow. Freezing winds strip you to the bone no matter the layers but there’s still plenty of work to do in the garden and greenhouse… gathering in.
Two art shows have meant busy-busy times; one is still underway, so I feel safe to leave my studio work for a little while to finish off the harvest and to plant anew for winter – spring, crops.
Alpine Strawberries are a gift that keep on giving… cabbages, leeks, beetroot, lettuce and onion are developing rapidly now, followed by winter veg… brassicas and silverbeet, more beans have broken ground.
Post Samhain is a rather wistful time… four years ago our daughter passed away in her sleep… no illness, no warning and so the month of May, filled with family birthdays, including hers and my own, are overshadowed by grief and loss.
It’s easy to say that life goes on… and it does but we are all forever changed… a beautiful piece of us is gone.
Yule… Feast of Fire, flame and renewal… again the wheel turns and we gather for longest night… light will return, slowly, barely noticeably but underground, life stirs unseen…
I am the essence that lives, all unseen I am found in all things the world renews, clear and clean I am the one you hear under Lady Moon’s light as my hounds run and bay at the gathering night Yule approaches and my time is done but soon a new battle will be fought and won as the Oak King I’ll come my vows to renew while the veil is thin and the Fae wander through I hear all your fears wipe your tears dry for you so gather with me at the first Feast of Fire Light promises to return and the flames leap higher come to me in the dance of the passing year follow the sound of my horn …there is nothing to fear
…to be continued…
Blessings from Beyond the Gate Farm and Studio… Penny
Samhain is past but the energy lingers… it’s cold and very damp now… autumn leaves fall to become a luscious mat, allowing fungi spoors to multiply and also food for worms to create more, rich loamy, soil.
Although extremely toxic, there are local creatures who nibble on these colourful fly agaric, (Amanita muscaria), perhaps the toxins in tiny amounts, are beneficial for them… I noticed the resident Wallaby, nibbling on the very edge of one while holding a pawful of other varieties that it loves to stuff its chops with.
Meanwhile, nature slows down… harvest time may still be busy and there’s never really a time of year when we have nothing to do but it’s as if our consciousness begins to slow in sync with the season. We are as always active but we become more mellow in our approach to life… honouring the land and the nature of our existance.
Thoughts of a warm, glowing hearth fire, become reality, daily… mist-enshrouded mornings are the norm and tiny birds, visiting for the autumn/winter seasons are like leaves blowing across the fields.
Robins are visiting now… (my photo wouldn’t upload, sadly), a precursor to frost and snow… their cheerful, full-throated song is as bright as their darting colour… they have long been known as messengers from the otherworld as the veil thins and the gates beyond, open.
It’s a particularly busy time for us as we continue to build and develop our home… a laundry, an extra bedroom and bathroom and a studio pod for me, to be followed by another for a wee gallery. Eventually, there’ll be a little shop to sell my organic inks and paint pigments… farm surplus, such as eggs but also candles, herbal tinctures and teas etc. It’s never say never, even as we age!
…and so the wheel turns on… food is grown, processed and preserved for winter… art is produced… words fly onto paper and a winter hush falls across the land…
Warm wishes and blessings… Awen… Penny
You can find out more about me, my lifestyle and work at…
I’ve been elsewhere… sorry! It’s such a busy year already in both garden and studio, with exhibitions this year already underway.
Autumn… Alban Elfed is past and in truth, with sun and a full, harvest moon aligned on the same trajectory on the 18th March, it occurred early… and at that moment, days became shorter and nights lengthened, rather than on the ‘calendar date’ of March 21st.
Light is a little more muted, although the sun has a sting, UV rates are high but soon the days will fade and the dark will overcome the light.
Harvest… wildcrafted berries go in the pot for syrups, jams and even inks of wonderful colour… blackberries, elder, hawthorn, raspberry and strawberries from the greenhouse are like jewels in the hedgerows. Late roses are fading and shiny hips form… they will become syrup, jam and possibly ink or natural dye.
Below, the elderberry ink I made is simple and quick to create and gives lovely shades from berry red to faded burnt sienna.
Gather your elderberries in season, when they are just ripe and juicy… about five handfuls will give you what you can see in my little jar above. It’s easy to make extra to store in the fridge until needed. I made twice the amount shown to give to friends as little gifts.
I pour a little water into a non-reactive pan with the berries, bringing them to a low simmer, crushing the berries as they soften with an old potato masher (use old tools because it really does stain everything… including your hands!). When berries are thoroughly softened I add a little white vinegar and simmer a little longer before straining everything several times through a fine strainer… you can use an old, clean stocking foot or muslin cloth but this too will be stained and no longer usable, so a metal strainer is the best way, I’ve found, to go. Vinegar helps the finished ink to dry a little quicker… the ink can be diluted further for a lighter colour, naturally.
When cooled, strained and no sediment remains, the fragrant ink can be put in dropper bottles or small spray bottles… old fashioned cartridge pens can be used to load up with ink for fancy writing etc., but I love to use a simple nib or a very fine brush for both writing and painting as seen in the photo above. Be creative… for instance, I am drying the pulp on trays and will then crush and process to make a fine pigment for paint.
Aside from this, I made a batch of elderberry syrup, for staving off those winter chills.
Then suddenly, we’re racing toward Samhain. It’s my favourite time of year when trees are in full change… their colours brilliant, as leaves float across emerald fields.
Last week the first frost lay on the ground and we lit fires, to take off the chill. Shadows fall differently across the ground and wintering birds return to feast on birch seeds, acorns, Blackwood pods, fallen fruit and berries. It’s a busy time on the farm… both harvest and bed prep for winter cropping, propagation of herbs, roses and trees and we begin planning for the following spring and new landscapes form as the land shows us what it needs.
…to be continued…
I saw stars shine
through an overlay of misty cloud
I heard the wind sigh
Trees danced to the rhythm
I felt the earth shift
A new season approaches
Must we retreat
must we let go
our tenuous hold on summer
but as leaves are released
from their photosynthesistic journey
colours begin their change
to match the softer light
the approach of autumn
when soon enough
bow their heads under naked trees
where fungi bloom
and silent owl flight
calls the season home
Bright blessings… Penny
Photography and verse, copyright Penny Reilly, all rights reserved.
As the season draws to an end; summer, fading into autumn, we find a place inside to prepare for the emptiness that winter can tend to be.
If we are uncomfortable in emptiness… filling it with anxiety or restlessness, we will naturally refill the space with the same content… so rather sit in the empty until, by choice, embracing the magick of change, we renew the space with our deepest needs for wellbeing.
Nature doesn’t stop… she breathes in and out in cycles and seasons… we take her in with every inhale and release her again, taking into our body all it needs before letting it go. This can be applied to life in so many ways. When we are filled with anxiety, we forget to breath and so our bodies are depleted. Sitting in nature we can refill and reenergise ourselves on every level… it’s not just food we need to fuel us.
Wellbeing is something we have greatly misunderstood, I feel… thinking through things instead of feeling through things… or a better yet, a balance of both. We cannot think straight if our adrenals are on overload… it’s our fight or fight mode that can leave us exhausted if not addressed with appropriate rest. We clear so much that clogs our system through breath… nothing fancy… just deep belly breathes and when we do this in nature our brain/mind/body all respond, to give us the sense of letting go, even when we’re unaware what we’re letting of.
Does a tree, mourn it’s leaves when first they change colour and shed or do they feel relieved of the weight on the bough?
I am empty
…with what, will I refill
health, wisdom, joy
…a new skill?
Why am I empty
…because I have overflowen
and in the inner garden
…dry grasses grown
Do I wish to remain empty
…is there nothing left I need
is there new abundance waiting
…a new seed
Will I fill the emptiness
…or wait for it to grow
then, by choice, fill it
…let new seeds, self-sow.
Walk softly… find your centre in emptiness… Awen /|\