Last week a card came in the mail wishing me a happy Samhaim. Wiccans celebrate this festival as it marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and is one of four seasonal celebrations throughout the year. It's a festival of darkness, balanced later in the year by the festival of Beltane, a celebration of light and fertility.
This time of year, specifically leaf-peeping season, is one of the most popular in the Hudson Valley. Every year you’ll find local publications recommending the best spots to view changing leaves: clifftop overlooks in the Gunks, winding roads like the Hawk’s Nest, and riverside views of the Hudson. The reds, oranges, and yellows are here for a few weeks and then disappear before winter. Spectacular views do make for great fall foliage photos, but just as interesting can be autumn sunsets, leaves in a puddle, or dying vegetation that isn’t necessarily bright and colorful.
If you don't feel up to partaking in the traditional Samhaim rituals of taking stock of your herds and food supplies, or bonfires and divinations, take the time to step outside and see why Wiccans feel this time of year to be when the divide between the Earth and the afterlife is the thinnest, facilitating communication between beings of this Earth and those who have left before us.