Chicory blue and creamy Queen Anne’s lace give way to the hot happy yellows: first the Mullein, then state flower Tickseed Sunflower. But it’s the first young tendrils of Goldenrod that cause my heart to pause- September and back-to-school is nigh. It’s bitter-sweet, this moment, every year.
The ancient cross-quarter harvest feast of the season, Lammas or Lughnassa, corresponds to Late Summer, (one of five that Chinese medicine recognizes*). The frenzy of early summer has to ripened and paused, the grain harvest has begun, and the first signs of autumn are upon us. Birds gather on a wire, cricket voices are a deeper chorus. We gorge on tomatoes and sweet corn, complain about too many zucchini. I feel a deep, rich melancholy sweetness this time of year, and it’s affecting the music I want to hear.
As a Wiccan descended from Czech peasants the deep and ancient pull of the turning earth still calls my blood. Can you feel it? There’s a ripeness and a waiting, and a strange sadness that accompanies the harvest wealth. There’s an ancient poem about this, handed down to us by Robert Burns, recorded as a song in 1970:
Play Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die
It’s remarkable how in the poem we identify with the barley plant: his green youth, golden maturity and painful demise (and creative revenge!) These days busy humans seldom pause and consider the life of the other beings around them, particularly if they are plants!
In my younger life the calendar was driven by the school year. August was a season of intense and conflicting emotion: time to grieve summer’s delirious freedom, the looming loss of my summer love. At the same time I was alive with anticipation, and dread, for the coming school year. There were summer songs that so captured this:
Play Jefferson Airplane’s Embryonic Journey
Summer loves no longer come and go as they once did, but the turning time still brings that thrill of change to come. Such an ancient thing, riding the cycle around again, grieving for the innocent joy of sweet spring, giving thanks for the bounty we feast on, and trepidation for the harsh winter to come.
Play The Moody Blue’s Eternity Road
I’d love to hear your stories of this season, the joyous, the bittersweet, the wheel of time milling us like grain. (Please comment, email or link to your reply. Sharing is love.)
*Earth: the in-between transitional seasonal periods, or a separate ‘season’ known as Late Summer or Long Summer – in the latter case associated with leveling, dampening (moderation) and fruition. from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing