On Halloween, 2018 I closed my house sale in Toronto and moved out, and on Halloween 2019 I spent the first night in my new home in Owen Sound. Interesting coincidence. Sadly for the kids here it was an awful night, rain, rain and more rain with wind thrown in for good measure. Not much fun going around to neighbours dressed up in costumes that have been planned for weeks and are now completely covered with rain gear. My downstairs neighbour Dianne and friends gamely waited outside to hand out candys while I made my first dinner, two batches of soup. We had to eat it out of mugs as the bowls were still packed. A good housewarming, but loads of candy left. Have to get that out of the house.
The next day I overheard someone comment that it was too bad that Halloween had to be at the end of October. A good question, that got me musing. About quarter days and cross quarter days, and how traditions get layered, one on top of the other, but often (always?) going back to the cycle of the earths journey around the sun each year. I love Winter Solstice, on or about December 21st, because it marks the shortest day of the year. It is a quarter day. From then on, to Summer Solstice, the days get longer. Of course Summer Solstice makes me sad because we loose daylight, ever so slightly, til Winter Solstice. When the days are perfectly balanced with night are the Equinoxes, on or about March 21st and September 21st. Okay, okay, you are probably saying, I know all this. But what about those cross quarter days? February 1st, May 1st, August 1st and November 1st, the dates that correspond to what some traditions consider the more important festivals, the Fire Festivals between the Solstices and Equinoxes. In North Western Europe the Celts certainly recognized them, and the Druids knew all about the cycle of the year, think of the June 21 st celebrations at Stonehenge when the sun rises over the Heel stone. The cross quarter days have various names but commonly recognized ones are Imbolc, February 1st, Beltane, May 1st Lammas, August 1, and Samhain, November 1st. Christians took some of the quarter and cross quarter days to celebrate their own festivals. Christmas is on top of the Winter Solstice, and Easter is close by Spring Equinox, and Samhain is All Saints Day or All Hallows to name a few.
Beltane, May 1st, was the licentious one. Unwed people could couple up that night around the Beltane fire and begin a trial marriage. No wonder the Puritans banned dancing around the Maypole, and how did it become a day for military parades in Russia?
Samhain, November 1st, marking the end of summer, and possibly the end of the Celtic year, became associated with burial grounds, and under the Christian calendar All Hallows, so October 31st was All Hallows Eve, Halloween. So sorry kids, you have to collect free candy in dicey weather, it can’t be any other day.
I could go on about this for quite a bit more as I find it very interesting, but will leave it by saying that the February cross quarter day is now celebrated as Groundhog day in North America. The layering goes on.
What a lot happened between those two Halloweens, and a big and important part of it was setting up meeting points, coordinating drop off points, driving the boat to those connection points. You get the picture. And right in my Bailiwick, my comfort zone, I love that challenge. Then there was the planning of what to take to England and Italy for winter on a boat, and summer in a very hot city, with a quick switch over between. (And who knew you could collect so much stuff in one year that I would need to ship 4 boxes home?)
For over a year I have been very goal or date driven. The foot has been pretty well pressed down on the gas, and although I was looking forward to taking a breathe it felt a bit strange when it happened, when the accelerator eased up. It didn’t happen until after everything was moved into my new home.
After all, I had to choose paint colours in a hurry, and get the place ready for the painter to start. I had to get a new cell, get the internet connected, join the library, join the YWCA, get movers at the last minute, right at the end of the month.
And then it was done, I was moved in.
Yikes. No deadlines, no foot on the accelerator, just unpacking.
And more unpacking. I felt lost. My full time job was finding a new home for all my possessions, whether they wanted a home or not, or even if I didn’t have a clue what to do with them. But luckily life is intervening. Dates are being made for doctors, dentists, accountants, financial advisors, all that important stuff, and to see friends and catch up. How quickly the time begins to get taken up. Aquafit, gym orientations, contra dancing, dog walking. Of course I had to visit Zoey’s grave.
I had a really good cry, but the walk up the hill to where she is through the fall colours reminded me of what I love about Ontario at this time of year.
and there is some semblance of sanity in my home, although I am leaving it for the weekend to catch up with friends, oh, and pick up those boxes.
P.S. Those light fixtures have got to go.