Samhain and All Hallows Day, the beginning of the ancient year

Yesterday was Samhain, the beginning of the dark half of the year. It is the time of retrenchment, of communal pursuits rather than individual enterprises, as the land gets colder with the waning Sun. It was the time of harvest, the last of the plenty of summer.

Though the air hasn’t yet picked up the winter crispness, the first frosts have improved the sprouts and parsnips. Birds are feeding communally, finch flocks are massing in the countryside. Yesterday I was near Grundisburgh and a huge flock of chaffinches worked their way over a hawthorn hedge. The arrow-shaped blaze of white in their tail feathers, only visible in flight, flickered daintily against the green and red of the remaining leaves and berries.

Closer to home the goldfinches are calling to each other are their growing flocks seek out seeds as they swoop over the fields. The sound is a charming metallic tinkle mixed in with resonant lower buzzing tones rich in harmonics.

On the way back I called in at Tesco, where I observed a stupendous tack-fest that Halloween has become. Somewhere in China there are factories beavering away producing plastic rubbish that is designed for landfill after one night…


Sounds of the Halloween display in Tesco. The cheer obviously doesn’t extend to the presumed Tesco off-duty employee fearful of being fired if her kid broke something.