‘Twas All Hallows Eve,
when the veils between the worlds of the Living & the Dead grow thin. All was quiet in the inky blackness of the night, the little Ffarm tucked down in the valley huddled against the bitter chill of an unseasonably sharp frost. The mysterious woodland was swathed in darkness, a place of spirits & mystery, of legend & myth; long known as part of the Valley of the Wild Hunt & the Gateway to the Otherworld….. especially on this night, of all nights. Respectful of ‘visitors’ & as tradition deems appropriate, the residents left a candle burning in the window, an empty chair by the hearth & a supper dish of bread & wine on the old wooden table before climbing the creaky stairs to bed. The lights were extinguished. Silence descended over fields & farmyard as the family slipped into slumber.
At around midnight, the lady of the house woke with a sense of unease. She lay there in the silence in the warm security of her bed, alerted to the fact they were not alone….something was approaching the cottage. Downstairs, the candle in the window guttered, the dancing flame sending eerie shadows across the walls before it fluttered & failed as if snuffed out by the pinch of icy fingers. The old verdigris bell hanging beside the porch – the cheery clarion of welcome visitors – sounded softly, mournful in the darkness. Fearful, the woman huddled deeper beneath the covers, afraid to leave the security of her husband’s side & face whoever – whatever, was out there – for it couldn’t get in….could it?
The slightest sound of something scaling the sheer cottage wall could be heard. It reached the window with a soft tap-tap…..then carried on, onwards, upwards…..
Soon there was a soft scrabbling as the seemingly impenetrable gap beneath the eaves was breached. A sound of footsteps overhead brought the dread realisation to the dismayed woman…..
“No, oh no…..we’ve got ruddy mice in the loft!” With an angry shuffle of the duvet, she turned over & tried to sleep as the little creature merrily tapdanced overhead, much to the delight of the tumble of cats at the foot of the bed below.
By morning, the errant rodent had found his way into the little study beneath the eaves where he was merrily munching his way through the Ffarms’ paperwork. Moriarty the Merciless was despatched to deal with the situation; there were a couple of curious thuds, thumps & bumps; & within the hour one ex-mouse was laid at the study door with a smug Moriarty curled up peacefully in the corner, green eyes glinting with glee at this unexpected playtime treat. “Got to keep my paw in, y’know”, his look seemed to say. “I trust I’ve earned that tin of tuna you promised me….?” Of course he had.
So there you go – that was the scary night we experienced for Hallowe’en this year. Meanwhile we had a busy day at Food Centre Wales, crafting chocolate gelato. The original intention had been to make several different varieties, including our pure, Rich Chocolate plus Mint Chocolate, & Chocolate & Orange varieties hand-potted into the 500ml ‘sofa’ pots; however on checking the mix we decided it would be better as a batch of pure chocolate, owing to the fact that our supplier had provided a darker, more intense, slightly bitter-smokey cacao than usual – of mind-blowing 100% purity rather than the 74-93% we usually use. We quickly discovered that this doesn’t mix well with other flavours as it tends to mask the delicacy of the pure oil of orange we use; & the fragile freshness of the peppermint extract doesn’t shine through with the same refreshing clarity, either. So it was deep, dark chocolate all the way…..just the thing for a cold evening, when the spirits are a-visiting.
Meanwhile I wish all an enjoyable Samhain, & also a Happy New Year to our Pagan & Druid chums (especially those couples who hand-fasted, today, many felicitations!). If you’re interested in the ancient traditions & festivities which surround this time of year, you might find the post I wrote this time last year – 31st October 2007 – a fascinating insight into why we do, what we do. And watch out for those ghoulies, ghosties, & long-leggety beasties….& especially the mouse!
I’m sure he’ll be back to haunt us, next year…..