Reading over last year's festival post, I was surprised to find that we'd had 45 people here. The post ends with a note to self to make more mulled wine, more lentil soup, more of everything. Fortunately, since I'd completely forgotten about the notes I'd made, we only had a small gathering this year, about eleven kids and a similar number of adults. So one big pot of lentil soup was enough, along with the butternut soup and spinach and pea soup brought by friends, two bottles of wine mulled, alongside a large thermos of hot chocolate.
Now the kids are older, they were able to do a lot of the hard work together without us, building the bonfire, carrying the tables and so on. I'm looking forward to a few years time, when they can do the cooking as well!
The girls had rehearsed some winter songs to play on their recorders, so we had more music in the circle this time, as well as our blessings, even getting everyone to join in a two part round of Rise Up Oh Flame, which was surprisingly tuneful - either that or everything sounds better in the open under a deep blue sky with stars peering through a hazy mist and only a light breath of breeze.
The flames rose up cooperatively and the fire blazed high, sending sparks high, and as usual drawing a crowd of fire gazers, grouped around, faces turned to the warmth and light. Except for Amy, the Jack Russell, her back to the fire as she had espied a good opportunity. Her patience was eventually rewarded with a dropped end of roll, possibly flavoured with boerewors!
There's no age limit for sparklers. Even the fourteen year old boys kept coming back for more.
Until eventually, the sparklers ran out, the fire burned low and it was time to go inside and discover that the puddings are the same as last year, and the year before and the one before that: guava fool, chocolate pudding and stripey sun jelly.
Unusually we had no-one sleeping over. Our son was going with his friend back to Cape Town to visit, and I had the Food Bloggers Indaba to get up early for the next morning, so the evening drew to an early-ish close with a warm glow lighting us all up from the inside, after a wonderful celebration of light, family and friends.