The first two spirit guards are the big pumpkins, carved with faces. We light them in the house and carry them out the front door. We walk around the house—North, East, South, West, through two gates, asking the spirits to protect the space for the winter. Mark places his in front of the dining room door; it is a face made from leaves this year. I carry mine to the front steps; a huge smile and a third eye watch the night. Gaurdian Spirits.
The second two are carved gourds from Sunbow farm, with thick skins. The designs are simpler—triangles and slits let the light through. These leave via the back door and round the house as well. As I walk, I remember all of the fruits of the gardens—grapes, raspberries, flowers, figs, tomatoes, greens—and we place these in the back veg garden. Mark’s is on the bridge, mine under the collard patch where the rabbit likes to hide. Garden Spirits.
The third spirit gourds are actually two votive holders of pumpkin faces that have been in the family for years. I gave my mother one for her birthday when I was twenty years old; I just liked the smile. We carry these small figures out of the dining room and around the house, still heading clockwise. One sits on the potting bench; the other watches from the thick wooden plank in front of the fireplace. They look towards the house, leading spirits in. I tuck my mother’s glass pumpkin into the strawberry plants at the feet of Saint Francis. Guiding Spirits.
At night, before we climb into bed, I look outside. Small golden lights gleam in the darkness.
Cornbread—the ideal potluck food
We had a potluck last weekend and I am always paranoid that there will not be enough food, so I make cornbread. This doubles nicely.
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white flour
.25 c of white sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
.25 c of oil
.75 cup of milk
handful of berries
Mix dry together. Mix wet together. Mix the two and throw the berries in. Bake in a 350 0ven until done using the toothpick test.