This year's Lammas observance falls on a full moon -- a time of intensification of emotions, pulls of nature and illumination. Known as the first harvest in the agricultural cycle, this is a time for gratitude for what has already come to fruit (or vegetable). Then comes the exploration of hopes and fears for the rest of the harvest.
This year I am helping out on friends' farm, and most likely we'll celebrate with a meal picked hours earlier and eaten near the generous plants that grew from seed, rooted deep into the soil, and produced leaves and fruit to please and nourish us.
I hope that my efforts to squash the squash bugs will be enough to let the zucchini and yellow squash flourish. I hope that we have found enough of the horned worms so that the tomato plants can retain their leaves and ripen their fruits. I hope that the erratic weather will give enough water and sun to grow and strengthen the rest of the harvest for us.
I fear that the weather has already shifted into new patterns, with so much more moisture in the air and less predictability. I hope that we will not succumb to fear, when instead we can ramp up the local activities already underway, such as the Transition Town movement where citizens organize to transform their own communities. Forget waiting for big government to lead in the needed environmental changes; it's a groundswell of local activism that can lead the way. Remember that small positive stories of people taking charge and planting gardens and reorganizing local community life are not considered the most newsworthy. Most likely this groundswell will go unreported until it reaches a tipping point and becomes the new normal.
I hope that everyone will consider growing some of their own food and reconnect with the life cycle and the abundance of nature, as well as the rigorous competition and the challenges involved in nurturing plants. I hope that enough people will do this so that we will begin to balance the power of the forces of commercial agriculture that do not bring us local produce or connection to the land.
Small-scale farming includes a sense of intimacy with the plants, whether from squishing bugs on the same plants day after day, or eating the fresh leaves or roots or fruits, some still warm from the sun. There's a natural communion with the nutrients of life that cannot be bought at any store. There's a sense of honoring and participating in the wheel of life, of belonging to life and to the earth. This belonging is key, it's an elemental part of rebuilding our relationship to the natural world and can lead to getting right sized about our needs and wants. Let this be the harvest of this year, the turning toward a renewed love of the earth and cherishing of life, including our own.
Now back to the farm, where I'm just a rookie helper, grateful for the community and chance to learn. Blessings on the first harvest.