From The Word Hoard: Hallows: All Hallows Day, when Annis wakes and hunts souls. November 1 or Samhain, depending on which calendar one uses. Hallow means holy or sacred; but to hallow is to chase with shouts or even to rouse to action with a sharp cry.
So I wasn't procrastinating on doing this update. I was waiting for the appropriate day.
"He walked in the Cloudwood that they were to fell, had felled long since...." Time is strange here, which could explain the out-of-sequence numbering.
"And wandering, he pulled and plucked the hazelnuts, the brown and starry beechmast, ash-keys, acorns, letting fall as many as he took, so many hung and ripened, fell and leamed among the leafdrift, far and farther still." Anyone know about the starry beechmast? A reference to the boat with a tree for a mast? I was wondering if beech leaves were star-shaped like maple leaves, but they aren't. Also, what does leamed mean?
"Birds sang, but flurried, shrill, it being fall of the year. They waked; and through the branches of the trees, the wind spilled leaves of light and shadow, leaves of dust, like the souls of all the birds since Eve." The birds and their shadows (possibly also the shadows of the leaves) are part of the echoes and shadowing in this chapter.
"All afternoon he lay beside the water, and watched the leaves rising from the dark to touch their falling shadows from the air, bright, haily. Being still where leaf and its foretelling image met, he did not know if he rose or fell through time." More doubling. I don't know what 'haily' means.
And he got his coat from a scarecrow, but he's like a scarecrow himself.
"Times changed, as time did not. They who had slain children in the fields, sowing blood with corn, hung garlands; still the seeds grew tall and winter died. Come wakenight, they stoned the wren, poor Jenny Knap, and hanged it in a crown of green, with rimes; they fired thorn, kept lightfast and langnight, so the sun would turn. They danced the years and died."
That last sentence is one of the very good ones.
Wren Day is on December 26, but the unnamed man is trapped in the fall. He's got a very bad sort of immortality. I'm also hearing a little echo of Lewis' "Always winter and never Christmas."
"Once, from the nuts he had gathered had sprung a hazel tree, and branched from his side, and borne and withered, in the space of a dream." The Celts believed hazelnuts gave one wisdom and inspiration. The man is just trying to survive, he's not learning anything trapped in autumn in the Cloudwoods, and perhaps it's not a coincidence that he sleeps through the life of a hazel tree. Sources from google give answers for the lifespan of a hazel tree of 20 years from one place and 70-80 years from another-- and just as well really, this isn't the place for precise world-building.
"The cup turned all to shadows. Lying by the water now, held it, wood and handworn. Fitted hand, he thought: his own and other's. Lad at given it were lightborn. Last. Not see'd him sin, nor any face i'Cloud."
Here's my guess at the meaning of the second half of the paragraph. "The lad that gave it was of fairy. (I have no idea what "Last" means in this case.) Haven't seen him since, nor anyone in Cloud."
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