House Diary: Lammas
[Cover image: The Corn Wheel I made in the early 1990s is still serviceable as the center attraction for the Lammas season, evoking corn, one of the glories of August, as well as anticipating autumn, with its use of Indian corn for the spokes representing the eightfold year.]
Lammas, August 1st, is the celebration of the First Harvest, that of grains. It takes its name from an Anglo-Saxon term meaning “loaf-mass”, a day when early Christians brought their milled grain and fresh-baked breads to be blessed by the Church. As with so much of Christian lore, the tradition has its roots in prior pagan practice, and Lammas has been honored by nature religions for the first fruits of the earth time out of mind. The earlier pagan term is Lughnasadh (pronounced “loo-nah’-sah”), named for the annual games held in honor of the Celtic deity Lugh (“Loo”), god of light. It was a day for gathering the clans, feasting on the abundant produce, friendly competition, horse trading and “handfasting”, a remarkably sensible mating ritual whereby a couple agrees to cohabit for a year before final vows are exchanged, just to be certain they’re compatible.
Here in the garden it’s been a blisteringly hot and dry summer, which spells trouble for yours truly and the errant well. So far, adhering to a carefully spaced watering schedule utilizing zones, I have averted a second incident of the well running dry, and a few drenching summer thunderstorms have helped. We’re having one of those days as I write, on Lammas Eve, so I’m taking advantage of my break in water drills to start composing this entry.