A new festival impulse

March 19, 2013

As Easter approaches, many of my southern hemisphere friends have been discussing how many of the Northern Hemisphere festivals sit or don’t sit well in our “reverse” seasons. For me, Easter and Christmas are so globally (and often commercially) celebrated I feel we cannot change their timing to suit our seasons, but instead need to look at the impulses and meanings of the celebrations from our new seasonal perspective. I have written about some of our festivals such as southern Autumnal EasterWhitsun, Martinmas, and other festivals
Other less well observed festivals such as Michaelmas and May day celebrations however could be moved to retain their essential seasonal impulses. Michaelmas could be well observed at or around St Georges day in Autumn, as there is much overlap in the stories, or ideas and themes behind them. St George musings here.

Needle felted St Francis

I wonder if conversely instead of May day we could instead incorporate the ideas of new beginnings and new growth and new life in the celebration of St Francis’s feast day at the beginning of October. It seems fitting in light of the newly elected pope (I am not a Catholic, but he does seem to hold the promise of fresh beginnings and the joy of life and love in the choice of his Namesake 🙂
To me St Francis was born again in his faith, and started his life again afresh. He of course is also recognised as having an affinity to the natural world, which too fits so well with all the new life and creatures born in the spring. I’d love to hear what you think about the rhythm and observance of festivals “down under”.


Snapshots from my couch

January 22, 2013

I am playing along with Sarah from Knitting the Wind, and sharing the everyday around me from my couch.  Please excuse my blurry photography skills.

Pencils by the window (and scattered along the windowsill) with various drawn train layouts

Pencils by the window (and scattered along the windowsill) with various drawn train layouts

The trains at my feet

The trains at my feet

The Jacobs ladder, Galileo thermometer and the awesome lichtwippe on our mantlepiece

The Jacobs ladder, Galileo thermometer and the awesome lichtwippe on our mantlepiece

The christmas music still lingering on our piano

The christmas music still lingering on our piano


The homemade Risk board on the table


And my favourite cushion (hand stitched William Morris design tapestry by my amazingly talented aunt) on the couch.





Standing the test of time

August 10, 2012

Trying to clear out and pare down toys after a 7 year old sons birthday hoarde, it was interesting the toys that have stood the test of time and were still too treasured and played with to be packed away…

Spring cleaning fairies…

out                                                              in

cuddly dolls                                            digit dolls, sleepy dolly(a knot doll he’s had since birth) and a doll to dress

blocks with holes and screws              plain blocks and natural wood blocks

wooden and felt play food                   kitchen utensils,  teaset and rock collection

felt playscenes                                      playsilks and cotton cloths

wooden cars, trucks and planes        paper planes and silk parachute man

wooden thomas trains                         wooden “real” trains and track (not thomas -too babyish)

dress ups, hats, belts, scarves, playsilks, playcloths

knitted and felt animals

Lego has invaded in a big way, but I was curious to see he still wanted his plain wood blocks, but not the screw together kind.  He was more than happy to get rid of any TV licenced items that have wormed their way into our toys as they have been suddenly deemed “babyish” by the seven year old, so anything Thomas, Bob the builder and even Charlie and Lola had to go.

Winter a world away

June 9, 2011

Winter in the northern hemisphere has king winter, heavy frost, or even snow, pine needles and of course all those festivals…advent, christmas, New year..

Winter back home in Australia is cold but colourful, The deciduous autumn trees are bare, but the gums are still green, and some are in blossom, the odd bottlebrush stands out in its red bristlly glory, and slowly the brilliant bursts of yellow wattle are starting to spread through the bush…

Story Dolls

October 27, 2009

In many of our stories a few simple props or even just hand gestures can captivate and capture the imagination as the tale is spun, and often helps to hold the youngest members interest in storytime  in our mixed ages playgroup.  I have seen some beautiful table plays or stories told in other steiner settings with marionette puppets, but for our simple stories (and a single storyteller) I have found props which can stand themselves are easier to use with less fuss and free up a spare hand or two as you go along. 


One of my favourite alternatives for people characters are wood and wire type dolls which I sew clothes onto (from wool felt mostly).  They are slightly posable and stand well on most surfaces.  These are two I have made recently,  Joanne and Peter.  Of course they can easily be called other names and be other characters, and they often are in the traditional tales I tell.  But I have found the stories I write myself tend to take on the characters of some of the storydolls I have sewn.  I can easily see how commercialised toys could limit the play or storylines a child spins for themselves, being so heavily invested in a set character, and find it interesting I have the same tendancies with my own handmade supposedly open ended dolls!  I need to make a conscious effort to shake myself up a little and let Peter be the little boy or the wise old farmer, or the proud father, and Joanne to be the big sister, the crafty aunty, or the strong harvester … 🙂 Not always an easy thing to do!

Wet-on-wet wonders

July 27, 2009

I love to watch the shapes emerge when painting wet-on-wet, starting out just playing with the colours and seeing what comes into form.  Sometimes we use a story to guide our painting, today we were just playfully using up the last of some mixed up paint from the back of our fridge. 


One child found a pine forest and the moon


another found a  giant peach with a pip inside


I found a snowy tree in front of a starry sky


What can you find?

Thou Gabriel

June 22, 2009

Thou Gabriel!

Bring me the white stars of winter,

Of thy lillies and snows:

Till the blessing of life-giving water and moon-beam into me flows

-from Seasons and Archangels by Isabel Wyatt


Midwinter is here, and it is still so mild.  The darkness is encroaching on both ends of our days, and yet we celebrated our midwinter festival wearing only shirts (no jumpers needed!)  I hope some snow comes to the mountains soon, or the early falls will be melted away by the mild weather and rain.  Snow is just such a magical and miraculous experience in Australia, as it is so often fleeting, and only occurs in very few places across our broad expanse of continent.  May some of the deep peace of our midwinter reach you wherever you are around the globe.