Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snowy Spirituality

On Friday night, poor sis was exhausted from a long and arduous week at work. Still, she found time to make jack'o'lanterns with the children. The kids used dry erase markers to create their designs and then she did the actual cutting part (good thing, too... those were the hugest pumpkins I've seen in ages and there's no way the kids could have carved through them!). The results were beautiful, as you can see in this picture of the boy twin gazing at the candle inside his.

For those who see this as a purely secular holiday, I guess I almost feel sorry for you. Don't get me wrong - I love the dressing up, the tromping around, the candy and the decorations. All that is a wonderful and amazing and magical thing all on its own. Yet there's a deeper sense to this time of year. It's a time of sudden changes, of death, of endings (and new beginnings!). The themes are serious ones. Even though  our children aren't burdened with the horrors of concerns of starving over the winter, they feel the sanctity and holiness of the end of October, too.

And right around the corner, a sudden change arose - an unseasonably early snow storm, one which has apparently knocked out power to thousands of people throughout our area. We're lucky. Not only were we prepared (generator, plenty of easy to prepare meals, extra blankets, sub-zero rated sleeping bags, etc.), we also didn't lose power at all. It's warm (if you can call 62F 'warm') and cozy in our house, and it smells of bacon and baking. There are cookies ready to eat, tons of hot chocolate in the cupboard, and cornmeal muffins waiting to be baked later today.

I see these simple preparations as being religious duties, in a sense. Hellenes often talk about the Delphic Maxims, and the way in which they guide our lives. Preparing for winter storms (even this early in the season) is a part of that. When we set aside food from the summer and autumn, we are showing we are responsible stewards of ourselves, our children, our livestock, and our homes.

Honor the hearth/Hestia is one of the Maxims, and by setting food by, whether by freezing, canning, drying, salting, or some other method is an application of honoring the hearth which warms us and the goddess who oversees our daily lives.

Exercise prudence tells us to be careful of our food stores. After all, a bad storm or flood can either clear out grocery stores or make it impossible to get to them. When we take out a jar of our own honey or home-made jam, we are able to reap the rewards of that prudence and spread it on toast.

Then there is use what you have, a sensible piece of advice at any time, but especially so in our current economic climate. Learn ways to save what you have (black walnuts? acorns? free apples from a neighbor's tree?) and then learn how to use them when your other food items are low. We have a dearth of apples at the moment and I am busily making apple muffins, apple spice cake, apple crisp (well, okay sis made that one lol) and lots of other things. Soon, though, I'll have to wrap each apple carefully in newspaper and set them in a dark place to keep. With luck they'll still be good in a month or two, and we'll be able to keep eating the crisp tastiness of them when all that's in the stores are mealy ones from far away.

Blessings on all, and may the snow that falls into your life be beautiful!
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