The time of Lughnasadh has come, and it has turned my thoughts once again to the nature of the harvest, even as we begin to fill the barn’s lofts with hundreds of bales of hay. Yet the meadows remain verdant and will feed the livestock for months yet.
But when is it right to celebrate the harvest? To me, that is a very complex question. Many people think that there is a sowing time and then a summer and autumn harvest. It is a misapprehension created through the modern separation from the land. For example, in my latest book a reader pointed out that we claim to harvest all through the spring and summer but that surely could not be the case since she knew harvest happens in high summer and autumn. But this simply is not so. Every gardener knows that some things are ready in spring, such as early strawberries and asparagus. Some things need be harvested in early summer, such as radishes and garlic. Some things are the fruits of late summer, such as most potatoes and various berries.
For persons who often live by the wild bounty of the land, there is a harvest to be had all year. Maple and birch yield sweet sap before the snow is even gone. Faerie spuds are just under the soil–if you know how to find them (and I do <wink>)–while the last snow yet remains in deep forest shadows. Dryad saddles and morel mushrooms are appearing at the first hint of summer.
There is so much more to the harvest than just Lughnasadh and Samhain’s moments of seasonal bounty. The Earth Mother extends her goodness to us all through the year, if only we develop the ability to “see” it. I think this recognition is so important–it reminds us how precious is Earth. It informs us we should appreciate her every day. Her continuous harvests are our life. Her love is our life. She asks little in return, only that we we live in balance, thereby respecting her and not abusing the other creatures that share this green world.
Lughnasadh; Samhain; these are merely moments of focus for what the Earth Mother gives all year. The harvest is always, and everyday we should celebrate it in deed and heart.