Yesterday, August 1st, is known in parts of the world as Lughnassadh or Lammas Day. According to the Celtic calendar, which we tend to follow, this day, the first harvest festival of the year, is also the first day of autumn.
I’ve spoken of this passionately and at length in the past, but briefly, the ancient Celts held that seasons, like all living things, begin as infants, grow, and die. Therefore, a season’s beginning looks a lot like the season that just ended, until it matures into its own distinct nature.
When I first learned to look at the seasons this way, the transition from summer to autumn was the most difficult to accept. The first harvest would be wheat crops, which I’d not had any experience with. For me, harvest time has stronger associations with late autumn and early winter—harvest home, Thanksgiving, the whole white Anglo-Saxon Protestant American program.
And yet, we’re in the midst of the first harvests of the homestead. We’re picking berries and wild mushrooms, gathering tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflowers from the garden, fishing is picking up as more salmon move into local waters and the halibut begin to “shallow up”—our harvest is definitely in full swing. These activities will increase and intensify as the season progresses. In autumn, more than any other time of the year, I feel tied to the earth, drawing sustenance from the land and sea around us.
The days will become more autumnal in the weeks and months ahead. We’re not pushing things so much as accepting the change, and moving with it, to be a part of it, not apart from it.