And the colours bring joy enough to see us through to the other side.
In our school playground, apples patiently queue in an admirably English manner. Some have arrived in such number they burst from every door of a car; others are nestled in a basket with just a few friends.
All are destined to be pressed. Here Yuli Somme, felter extraordinaire and creator of the most beautiful natural woolen shrouds, blithely ignores the instructions written on the funnel - with no unfortunate consequences.
The resultant mush is packed in a stack of gridded tins lined with muslin,
each carefully wrapped,
then squeezed by young and old working the tightening wheel. The nectar is carefully poured into bottles
and the leftovers taken away by the firstcomer for excellent composting.
This is our freezer. More is in our fridge. More still is in our systems already, keeping the doctor away, we hope.
Fueled by this seasonal sugar bounty, we have been getting creative. Pickle spent ages using the stick end of the brush to make the most beautiful design of dots and dashes. Them she stuck the brush in the black and covered it all up. I make art because I love the process, but it is awesome to watch Pickle do it with not a scrap of regard for the finished result (or the laundry).
I followed a recipe (almost unheard of) and made perfect playdough. We stuck our fingers deep into it, giggling a bit nervously when we couldn't see them any more. We made rings. We made moons and sausages and a little teacup. Then we squidged it all back into a lump, which was the most fun part.
Other harvests have come our way. Perfect horse mushrooms from fields around an organic farm
and a bumper haul from Chagfood: pumpkins galore plus our regular veg box, and an evening of feasting, fire and Baba Yaga storytelling from Coyopa with musical accompaniment from Rima Staines (who, it turns out, can make an accordion snore!). The children claimed they weren't scared. I can only say they must be fools.
All that has got us in the mood for Hallowe'en tonight. Many years I've celebrated Samhain in a (fairly) serious and sacred way. But this year I'm creating a new ceremony. I'm taking my favourite little witch (seen here flying her broomstick backwards - maybe it's a stunt broom) trick-or-treating.
And if any children come to our door, this is what awaits them:
Happy Hallowe'en and Samhain blessings on you all. Let's make it through!