Wednesday, August 1, 2012

rip those loaves!

August is the beginning of autumn to me, usually more in hint and spirit than in actual weather. Nothing is shouting FALL! into your ear, instead you notice it like whispers vibrating off the squash vines like a string on a child’s tin can telephone. Walk outside for morning chores and take in the heat, but even the novice to country living and feel the change. There’s less humidity, the first leaves are starting to fade and hang differently. The garden and the forest itself are heavy with the peak of its growth, like a bowl of milk about to tip over and spoil. Senescence is just around the corner and the break-neck pace of growth seems to only apply to weeds, which by this point I have allowed to devour parts of the garden without fuss.

They used to call the first few days of August Lammas, which translates from the old Anglo-Saxon into “Loaf Mass”. Since the summer wheat was harvested before other fall crops, it was the official start of fall to people in European agricultural societies. Which is understandable on many levels, since people are not only bringing in the first big crop, but are bringing in a crop that will be ground, stored, and set aside in casks and sacks to feed their community through the dark months ahead. This made the wheat harvest the first of several insurance policies for winter, and when you are out there cutting sheaves and grinding flour for winter bread I assume its pretty hard to feel like you’re still on summer vacation....

It was a day of work, but also a holy day. People brought loaves made of the first grains of the year into their churches to be blessed and then that sacred Lammas bread was not eaten, but ripped into four equal-sized pieces and placed in the four corners of their barns. There it sat as a happy little sacrificial offering. A tangible symbol of hope for a safe winter and good luck.

And If you think I am one to buck a couple hundred years of tradition, you have another thing coming. On this Lammas full moon, I am baking bread and you better believe the four pieces will be in my barn by evening. One in each corner, which will certainly end up being eaten by for the goats, chickens, and rats but who dines tonight in the red barn, well, that's not up to me. It's up to Lammas.

Next year, I'll be harvesting wheat. Mark my words!

18 Comments:

Blogger seagoddess said...

On Monday I noticed that ever-so-slight change in the sky...

August 1, 2012 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

On Monday I noticed that ever-so-slight change in the sky...

August 1, 2012 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger maddie said...

Such a lovely post about history and the start of fall. I worked on a farm last summer and by the time August came I was waking up to feed the animals and check their water in the dark. I'd have to walk through thick fog just to get to the barn. The spiders were also considerably larger at this time of year and I walked through the barn with a broom, hehe.

August 1, 2012 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger maddie said...

What a beautiful first paragraph and I really enjoy your historical posts. It's funny how you really do notice the fall coming in August. I worked on a farm last summer and during August I found I was waking up in increasing darkness and thicker fog. The darkness stayed longer and longer and in the mornings I began wearing a sweater and August wasn't even through yet. Spiders are also rather plump this time of year, so I usually had a broom nearby in the barn, hehe. You're doin' good Jenna!

August 1, 2012 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Lughnasadh is such a wonderful day. This weekend I noticed the change in light and air outside. The beginning of autumn is such a fun time for me. It's a time for harvesting; beginning fall crops/covercrops; and the temperatures begin to drop (even if slightly) in the South. Since fall was a tough one for me last year and I barely remember half of it, I'm getting excited for this one.

Enjoy your Lammas!

August 1, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Hi Jenna,
I planted amaranth this year which has been lots of fun to grow. It's an ancient grain that's incredibly nutritious (and gluten free). Perhaps you could plant a patch of that along with your wheat. It's easy to grow and pretty and all parts of the plant are edible. The leaves can even be blanched and frozen for winter like spinach. Pretty neat stuff. ~Vonnie

August 1, 2012 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

The change had already begun here. Despite 80+ degree afternoons, mornings and evenings have been cooling off to the low 60's. I broke out a hoody to walk the dog and it made me so happy-I love autumn!

August 1, 2012 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Have a Blessed Lammas!

Denise in a HOT and MUGGY TN

August 1, 2012 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Have a Blessed Lammas!

Denise in a HOT and MUGGY TN

August 1, 2012 at 1:31 PM  
Anonymous Nichole said...

Happy Lammas! We had some homeschool friends over on Sunday, and played old fashioned field games like Collect the Eggs, and Potato Harvest. Collect the Eggs was a spoon race, everybody wins if they get the eggs to me, bc I then cook 'em. Potato Harvest is basically a sack race, in their pillow cases, but everyone wins if we get harvest in. If you decide to have a family, homeschooling is a super fun way to go. The kids help me with feeding the chickens, feeding the dogs, picking up sticks and rocks for me to mow, sweeping our wood floors in the house, washing the dishes, etc etc. We also have fun festivals like Lammas with friends.
Here's to the breaking of the bread for first harvest~

August 1, 2012 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

If only... August is nothing but 100 degree heat and stifling humidity here in eastern NC. The only signs of fall are slightly later sunrises and bumper crops of spiders. The gardens die back, it's the "second hungry month" (the 1st is March), and there's little fresh food to eat other than watermelons. Which are divine, but one can't subsist off of them. Menus are composed from what I put up May-July. I grew up in New England, & dearly miss it this time of year.

(But absolutely do not miss it in January, when I'm NOT shoveling snow, and am eating endless fresh greens, broccoli, and root crops!)

Best of luck getting all your hay & firewood in soon!

August 1, 2012 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

My husband and I have been noticing subtle changes ~ Queen Anne's Lace in bloom, the sun sets differently than a month or so ago, things seem to be quieting down. I can't say that I'm sorry to see Fall come ~ it's my favorite time of the year. I love the cool temps, the brisk air, the feeling of hunkering down before the onslaught of winter. I guess it's the nesting instinct that we all have. I love New Hampshire in the fall.

August 1, 2012 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

O yes lammas is here ... The moon is full the days are getting shorter ... Before you know it we will be gazing up at a full harvest moon it's the very best... Enjoyed the post thank you

August 1, 2012 at 7:10 PM  
OpenID wayfindingnotes said...

The changes here are slight, but beginning to be a bit more noticeable, at least if you're looking for them. I don't have a barn, but I do like the idea of finding an alternate way to put a loaf of bread around. I'll take all the auspicious traditions that I can for the coming season.

August 1, 2012 at 7:11 PM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

O yes lammas is here ... The moon is full the days are getting shorter ... Before you know it we will be gazing up at a full harvest moon it's the very best... Enjoyed the post thank you

August 1, 2012 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger J.D. said...

Today, Lammas has another meaning for me as friends and relatives joined us to put my father to rest after a long illness.

It's the first day of fall and all those who mean so much to us sustained us during this time as the grain harvest will sustain us in the months to come.

Blessed Lammas to all.

August 1, 2012 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

We already have Ironweed blooming and Goldenrod. I have noticed a very subtle change in the mornings and evenings alreay. And the full moon is not nearly as big as it has been. I am looking forward to Autumn here. I have started a second round of plantings and will be planting fall gardens in a few weeks. So fun!

Jenna, how did the breaking of bread go for you? I have never heard of this before.

August 1, 2012 at 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Diane in Missouri said...

Hugs to you J.D.

August 1, 2012 at 11:57 PM  

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