Having missed last year because of covid, or at least missed an in-person wassail as we still met up on Zoom, we were back at the Donkeyfield Community Orchard to continue the wassailing tradition. As well as singing wassailing songs with the community choir, people sprinkled some of last year's cider on the tree roots, hung toast in the tree branches enjoyed some hot apple juice and gathered round the fire. The weather stayed dry until we sang our last song, when the rain came. There was also a visit from The Keeper of the Soils in the person of artist Natalie Taylor, wearing the cloak and collecting another soil for the collection.
From the North Light Arts website:
This community created cape, initiated by artist Natalie Taylor along with North Light Arts is for the Keeper of the Soils to wear at celebratory occasions. The Keeper, who may be a different person each time, celebrates Scotland’s rich agricultural and food growing heritage by receiving gifted soil samples from growing areas across East Lothian and the Central Belt, and keeping them safe inside the cape’s many internal pockets. The pockets are being made with the people of Dunbar during workshop sessions led by Natalie.
The cape was first worn on the eve of the Pilgrimage for COP26 at an event in Dunbar organised by North Light Arts, Sustaining Dunbar and John Muir's Birthplace. During the event there was a special soil ceremony, at the Battery in Dunbar Harbour, were the first four donated soils were added to the cape.
Since then over 20 soils from East Lothian, Central Belt and further afield have been collected.
I'm Jon Davey, a freelance community photographer based in Portobello, Edinburgh's seaside suburb