The year the twins were born, I celebrated All Saints in Warsaw on a grey, chilly November afternoon in Powązki cemetery, amongst the crowds of people visiting the family graves and leaving flowers and glass lanterns (http://fivemonthsinwarsaw.wordpress.com/?s=All+saints)
Last week, I celebrated All Saints, Samhain or Halloween with a group of friends at the end of April on the south coast of NSW. This year's celebration gave me an opportunity to mark seasonal change and to share stories of ancestors.
We approached the Bingie house along an avenue of candles which were reluctant at first to maintain light in the fading day and under challenge from a brisk wind.The celebration was one of darkness, brief ritual and a feast, accompanied by the stories of our ancestors. These stories were a rich way to acknowledge people who have influenced us, to tell their stories and to learn more about each other. The stories told by seven women encompassed pioneers, orphans, a year in a TB sanatorium, mental illness, loss, self-sacrifice, clairvoyance, resilience, gifts, the vastness and closeness of family, the separation of mothers and children, and the effects of these stories down the generations. We drank wine from family land and ate dark food prepared by us all to share.
For me it was strange to celebrate going into the winter dark as I prepare to head off into the long days of the northern summer: part of the dislocation that comes from duplicating some seasons and missing others as I pursue twin lives in Warsaw and Potato Point.