Transitions and Lughnasadh

Believe it or not, Lughnasadh is almost here.

(I can’t believe it.)

August 1st is less than a week away. First harvest, harvest of the corn (grain). Which, appropriately enough, our only two ears of corn might be ready by then!

Of course, for those less agriculturally inclined, the reflections of the season usually center around what’s metaphorically/spiritually ready to harvest and what needs a bit longer, separating the what from the chaff and the transition from summer into autumn. It can seem a bit crazy, especially in Central Texas, that August 1st can celebrate the descent into autumn. But every year I think it’s crazy, and every year August 1st rolls around, and it feels right. The shadows begin stretching over the lawn just a little bit earlier; we take out the summer tomatoes and plant the fall crop; I can berry jam and apple butter.

Now that I work in a winery I know that August 1st is right in the middle of the grape harvest [for Central Texas, not so in other places]. The whites have already come in, and in quick succession the Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat will be hand-picked, dumped into tubs, shoveled into the destemmer-crusher, piped into then the press, then pumped into tanks to begin fermentation.

No matter how hot it still is, how far away the cooler weather may be–it is harvest.

In my own life, it’s a time of transition. I’ve gone back to work. C had her first day of daycare today (yes, I cried, a lot.) Like I mentioned, the garden is in part dying off and in part being replanted.

And I’ve decided that, by Samhain, my house is going to be a home.

See, we’ve lived in our house for 2.5 years and it’s still..blank. The walls are empty. The front yard is a mess because of previous poor landscape design. Everything looks temporary, transitional. I suppose it’s because once we moved in we had a baby, and then we thought J was going to lose his job and we’d have to move, and then, and then, and then.

But I’m done with and then. Could life change on a dime and we find ourselves packing boxes to move to Place X? Sure. But I’m sick of walking into my house and feeling like it’s just a pit stop. I want the beige walls to be another color, there to be family pictures and artwork, grown-up furniture instead of college/newlywed furniture, and for the front yard to look decent. For people to walk in and feel the energy of a blessed home. You just can’t have that if there’s a little bit of chaos or emptiness wherever you look.

So I’ve given myself (and by extension J, haha!) the deadline of Samhain. The entire season of harvest to tuck into working on the lawn and the house. By October 31st I want our (largely non-existent) trick-or-treaters to walk up a clean path, surrounded by a seasonal front-yard and peer into a homey foyer. Where the energy of the house clearly says, we’re a family that loves each other, and we welcome you to our home.

Appropriate, I think, for a season I’ve always thought of as ‘Harvest Home’.

What are your thoughts about Lughnasadh? If it’s in your tradition, do you connect to it?

Advertisements

Grandmother Moon

I know that the traditional names for the August Moon are Barley Moon, Corn Moon, Red Moon and such. As of yesterday I titled this post ‘Corn Moon’ after a little protection charm I made. However, today, as J and I set off to buy a chest freezer and I had just finished a batch of jam I knew that I really celebrated my grandmother during this esbat.

Last night, I did a small ritual. I blended up some Solar Protection Oil (is that weird on a Full Moon…eh? Whatever) and had a sheaf of corn that I had dried and wanted to charm for the house/as a harvest decoration. I plan to find a place for it to hang, perhaps at the beginning of September.

Solar Protection Oil: Orange, Pine, Rosemary and Patchouli blended with Sweet Almond Oil

Dried Corn Sheaf Blessed with Protection Oil

The above isn’t the best picture–many apologies, my corn sheaf isn’t photogenic 😉 (That sentence made me laugh.)

Anyway…I woke up this morning and prepared to make my first jam, ever! I’ve never canned before and was extremely nervous. The whole idea of botulism kind of freaked me out. I didn’t want to shell out money for the equipment before I knew if I even liked it, so I took some pointers from this website about how to can without the equipment. I did buy jars, though (she recommends reusing jars). When I pulled them out of the package, much to my delight, they were the same quilted pattern my grandmother had used when she canned.  I hadn’t noticed when I put them in the shopping cart earlier that week.

Mixed Berry Jam with Allspice, Clove, Nutmeg and Ginger

Mmmm. Jam. Lots of finger swiping.

After I set the jam to seal and cool, J and I decided to make a purchase we’ve talked about for a long time: a chest freezer. We have visions of buying a side of grass-fed beef (anyone want to split one if I can find a provider this late in the season…anyone?) and preserving our garden harvest. So, today, we decided to do that.

Not to get sentimental about an appliance, but one of the things I remember most vividly about my grandmother’s house was her chest freezer in the garage. It held all sorts of yummy things, like a plethora of half gallons of Blue Bell ice cream (Tin Roof, Rocky Road, Pecan Praline and the best…Homemade Vanilla). Blue metal utility shelves lined the back wall of the garage, filled to the brim with preserved veggies from their garden, jam and, most importantly, apple butter.

Oh, gods, the apple butter. That will definitely be happening this year.

Anyway, as I set about doing all of these harvest-y, homey type tasks I felt so, so close to my grandmother. She hasn’t passed over yet, but she turned 90 this year and lives under the care of my parents. It’s hard to see her age as she was the matriarch of the family, the rope that bound our family together during some truly harrowing times. Honoring her this moon, remembering her, acting as she taught me to act: to preserve, to be frugal, to make a home, to tell stories, to laugh—is truly a blessing I won’t soon forget.