The Summer of 2010 is rapidly heading towards Fall, especially for those of us who've lost the month of July to illness, surgery and recovery! (As if I needed anything to make this year fly by even faster than it already is?)
In our world's distant past, today was the first day of Autumn and called Lammas, the start of the first harvests of grain, corn & apples and the beginning of preparing for Winter.
In Celtic times, August 1st was called Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-naa-saa) and traditionally marked the first grain harvest of the season. The festival was celebrated from sundown through following sundown (though sometimes started at sundown on July 31) and honored the harvest & grain gods and the god Lugh (as the god of the harvest) the god of light and the god of sun (depending on who's opinion you read).
Corn and blackberries were also harvested. (The corn husks were kept to dry and be made into 'corn husk dolls' a tradition carried over and continued in America to this day). It was also considered to be the first day of Autumn in Celtic times as well.
The last "official" Lughnasadh festival took place in Ireland back in 1169. After Catholic influence appeared, the day was renamed Lammas and loaves of bread were baked with the first harvested grains and blessed in a church ceremony.
The Celts (and other European peoples) feared angering the gods and suffering what they felt was the gods punishment so festivals like this reminded them to be thankful for what they had and to not take necessities for granted. It was also a reminder that the weather was soon going to turn and they had a limited time left to prepare for surviving the approaching long winter.
In our world today, it is often difficult to be mindful of the seasons and the subtle to not so subtle changes they bring, especially with all of the 'creature comforts' and technology we have for different weather, along with most any fruit or vegetable being available year round at our food stores. I have tried as best as I can to appreciate each season as they come and go, by researching our past, by growing some of my own foods, by watching nature and eating things in their season regardless of when they're available, all of which I enjoy doing. I've always felt connected to the seasons (some more than others), even before I was a gardener.
This year, growing my own food hasn't been as successful as in the past which disappoints my heart to no end. When it comes to extremes of heat & humidity, I've found that in-ground gardens fare better than container gardens. (I used to in-ground garden before we moved here & had to go strictly container). I've lost all kinds of tomato's, spinach, swiss chard, parsley and flowers as well. Coupled with my yet to have ended health ordeal, it's thrown me completely out of whack! But I will find my rhythm again, some how. And I won't be discouraged when it's time to start growing my veggies again either.
In all honesty though, this is one July I am happy to see behind me.