Sunday, 31 July 2011

Blessed Lughnasadh!

Happy and blessed Lughnasadh Eve to you all! This is one of my favourite celebrations on the wheel of the year (along with Samhein and Yule), because it is quite dear to my heart. The main reason is that it was the first celebration that I had truly celebrated, by attending a weekend festival with a friend in 1997 at Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary, in southern Indiana. 

Midsummer Moon Dance is not an event that they hold any more because it wasn't one of the big ones, but it's a weekend that I still remember very clearly. I remember the circles that were held, that were kept open and informal. The amazing feeling of sleeping under the stars...there was no light pollution and the weather was hot, humid, and clear for the entire weekend (too warm to be sleeping in our tent). Everybody going skinny dipping in the creek at the bottom of the hill, to cool off. Getting my head around the concept of 'Skyclad is welcome'. And the Thunderdome. Nothing will ever compare to it...everybody sitting around, people who brought their drums, flutes, and even a home-made didgeridoo, and spinning and dancing around the bonfire (and almost catching my skirt on fire because I semi-tranced and got too close).  The energy over the entire weekend was amazing, and I went home buzzing.

Unfortunately, I've not had the opportunity to do anything similar. Here in the UK, most of my friends don't really acknowledge it because it's not one of the major celebrations. Because so many of us have no real connection to the harvests, we've lost the celebration of the first harvest, and even the second harvest (Mabon, or the Autumnal Equinox). Even Samhein has lost it's entire meaning. Yes, the veil is thinner and we celebrate our ancestors and those that have passed on over the year, but it's also the celebration of the final harvest. Today I will be celebrating by cleaning my house (similar to a spring clean), adding a salad to my lunch with the lettuce harvested from my own garden, baking some zucchini bread with zucchini and eggs gifted from a friend, and taking a bit of that as an offering to Lugh with the Imp to the nearby river.

We'll also be spending time in our back garden, which for my first real attempt at a veg patch, I am really proud of. I'm in a rented house, and the landlord thought that it would be easy maintenance for the tenants to layer the garden in pebbles and peat. Unfortunately, the weeds are a nightmare, on top of it reminding me of a barren wasteland.  So, I used a load of the pots that people had given to me, scraped a few of the stones at the end of the garden away (I wanted to do more, but it's really difficult when doing it with just a spade), and planted seeds in whatever space I could find. I had planned on moving the pumpkins all down to the end of the garden, but I had a plant that had decided to reseed itself from last year's harvest (I only put pumpkin out last year as an experiment) in March, and it now is taking over my path and has a pumpkin the size of your head. I've had lots of kos lettuce that I have been harvesting, as well as beetroot (I dice it and roast it with potatoes, onion, smoked sausage, and herbs...yum). I currently have lots of little green tomatoes that I expect to get bigger and go red within the next fortnight (maybe? This is coming from a complete novice). The sunflowers, as you can tell from the pics, are now almost as tall as I am. The two sweetcorn plants that I randomly bought from the market for 10p a piece and threw into pots now each have a tiny ear of corn with the silk coming over the top forming. The pumpkin plants at the end of the garden are getting big really fast.  We don't have strawberries this year, but the plants that we bought to rescue are finally starting to thrive. As are the herbs in the 'mixed pot'...I've already snipped a few of those for a stew the other day, and it was amazing. I usually use dried herbs, but I'm definitely going to change my ways. I'm currently making arrangements to sort out the bits that we need for the arrival of quails, so we'll have quails eggs of our own, soon.

Next year, I've been offered the assistance of friends and a rototiller, so I'm now starting to plan in my head how to correct the mistakes that I've made this year (not enough compost in the pots of tomatoes, for example), and what more that we can put out. I do have cucumber and radish out this year, but I think they need to be somewhere else, where they're not being shaded by the sunflowers. I still have my fingers crossed for them.  I also want to put out onion, carrots, and possibly cauliflower, along with other veg. 

I can say that it makes pulling all of the weeds a lot easier and more enjoyable. And the bigger the veg (especially the pumpkins) get, the less weeds there are. And the Imp is actually getting really good at helping weed, even if she did accidentally mutilate one of the smaller pumpkin plants the other day (it was an's in a shady corner, so not as big as the rest of them, and absolute inundated with weeds).
Long view of the garden, trying to capture most of the plants.
My pot of mixed herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme, and a little lavender) and one of the lavender that I'm trying to rescue in the other pot

One of the many ladybirds that we've had this year in the sunflowers. Various bees have also been sighted.
View of the sunflowers from the neighbour's garden

One of the tomato plants
The pumpkin that helped itself
Quail chicks at my friend, Raine's, that I am getting prepared to start with.


Sophia Catherine said...

Beautiful garden! I've only just started mine, and the soil is bad and half of it is in dry shade, so it's quite a challenge. I'm loving experimenting with what works, though :) Happy Lammas/Lughnasadh to you!

Raine said...

Glad to be part of the "Project" :)