As far as I can trace them, many of my ancestors were the fierce Ulster Scots, who later became the Scots-Irish and settled in Appalachia.

October 31st, 2013, 1pm

It was 17.8°C with broken clouds. The wind was calm.

The Celtic harvest festival Sawhain that begins at sunset tonight halved their year, and revelries around bonfires with apples and spirits played in a liminal space on this occasion of ushering out the year’s dead. My people cross-dressed, poured out for the departed, and carried salt for protection.

I carve turnips as they did into samhnag (although their turnip we know better as the rutabaga), leaving the beard-like root ends, balancing them on their wide purple tops, and slicing smile lines like mine around the tiny eyes. The raw inside of this vegetable is spicy, and kept whole, the roots can cellar through the winter.

As small bands of Scots roved on this night the year turns over, they offered songs or verses for treats. I wrote this poem with Gaelic words last night.



When I was small she read the book

about the change of seasons

Here is when leaves fall she said

and went into the reasons

She could not know and nor could I

that what she thought to winter

would never bloom beag air bheag

the hoped-for spring a splinter

I have her name, the book, the strain

a warrior spirit thriving

But no small one to stir the coire

just shivering words writhing

O fallow bowls with ancient grain

please feed our people alway

O strath between death and one’s own

cleanse myths that clot the pathway

Cassie, Lia, Jordan, Allan and 1 more said thanks.

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Kristen Taylor

drinker of raw milk, founder/editor of @saucymag, call me @kthread

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