How are we in late September already? This year has seriously gone whizzing by at a tremendous pace, surely it was only Easter just a few weeks ago? But moaning aside, I really quite like this season change from shorts to trousers, new spuds to old, putting the lawnmower away and the hopeful possibility of that Indian summer that we all enjoy, but rarely happens, although we have been very lucky this month so far, and then of course, the Harvest Festival. If my memory serves me correctly, my very first association with this lovely time of the year was at a very young age going to the primary school on Hayling Island. First thing in the morning of the Harvest Festival assembly, along with my sisters, pestering my Mum for something to take into class and ending up with me happily having a tin of beans in my brown satchel. Then being sent on my way really pleased with myself that I had something for the big display in the main hall, where a beautifully made huge, shiny loaf of bread in the shape of a Wheatsheaf would have taken pride of place in the centre of the stage. We would then be sat squashed together & crossed legged on the floor in the packed mid - morning service, looking for our parents that had been invited but felt like they had to attend (so we had to be angelic), and then a lengthy talk by a local farmer or Church member or both, which at that age I maybe only found mildly interesting (boring) & then, eventually we would arrive at the best bit……... going home early!
The years passed and the brown satchel having been retired, I then celebrated the Harvest in my late teens / early twenties by having a glass or two of cider in whatever Sussex local pub put on the best show or best (cheapest) prices etc.
Now as I feel the crunch of the leaves under my feet and my thoughts are drifting towards the autumnal stew, the Harvest Festival still reminds me that it’s time for cider 🙂 although now it is my homemade rough stuff.
This year in the many fields that surround the market & car boot site at Ford Airfield, I noticed that the wheat was gathered in early and new planting completed way back in August! Maybe trying to avoid losing costly crops to the wet weather days that the school holidays brought us frequently this year….
I am pretty sure that the local farmer at my old school mentioned that the Festival was also a time when the workers were rewarded with produce for the great effort and hours put in by them all during this period. A tradition going back to Pagan times, but I suppose that ‘reward’ now comes in the form of ‘overtime’ in the monthly pay packet! We are in this age, when the computerised combine harvest machines are getting bigger and better at the job each year and the farming is more intensive, so perhaps it is only local small farmers that celebrate the season in the old-fashioned way?
I think this year and for the foreseeable, I will continue on with my traditional cider celebration 🙂