In the spirit of Martinmas, a festival that honors St. Martin of Tours a Roman soldier who cut his cloak into two share with a beggar one freezing night, many folks brought along an old coat or something else warm to be donated for the coming months of cold. Martinmas is also associated with light and the festival serves as a way to remind ourselves, as the daylight hours grow shorter, that the light will begin to return with the winter solstice. Such a message was truly made clear on the farm today as the dormant fields and orchards clearly showed us how important the return of the sun’s light and warmth really is.
The skies remained dry for a while, allowing us to venture out for a good hike through the orchard and along an old tractor trail through the woods and meadow beyond.Thanks to the morning’s rain, (and the rain pants and boots they were wearing!) the highlight of the day was some solid puddle stomping along the orchard road. The kids followed a little rain stream down the hill to a series of nice, muddy puddles where they had a good splash before continuing along. They collected some autumn leaves to use to decorate the lanterns they would be making later and searched for the milkweed pods which sent little seed parachutes through the air only a few weeks before. And hey tromped through an old section of orchard stomping on the over-ripe apples discarded by the trees as they prepared for the winter ahead.
We returned to the terrace, a little bit soaked and took a break for some dry clothes, hanging damp socks near the fire to dry, before settling in to hear the tale of St. Martin and create our paper mache lanterns. After choosing a clean jar wired with a long handle, the children painted fiery, autumn tissue onto their lanterns’ surfaces, layering colors and various leaves until they were, mostly, completely covered. Our work was accompanied by singing a lovely little lantern song whose few words the kids learned quickly. As each child finished, they were given tiny tea lights to place inside their lanterns, and we lit each one as we celebrated the close of the season with hot, cinnamon-y apple cider and warm, sugary donuts.