from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday 31 July 2022

the first harvest


Lughnasadh, Lammas, begins tonight. As I've written many times before, Lughnasadh is one of the Celtic fire festivals, and exactly midway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. Traditionally, it's the time of the first harvest: notably grain (think John Barleycorn).

As you will know if you've been paying attention, TM and I have moved to Brittany, to be guardians of some very beautiful land and a shambling old farmhouse. We are beginning to plan – and where we can, start to implement – the next phase, which involves permaculture, forest gardening and rewilding. We have many mature and lovely trees as a starting point.

There is much joy and many challenges. There is far far too much to say, which is why I haven't.

Something rather lovely here is quite how many, and what a variety of, trees and shrubs are coming to light as we get to know and to weed or prune back the overgrowth; many of them fruiting. Our first harvest of raspberries and blackcurrants is well past now, and we have walnuts, sweet chestnuts, figs perhaps, grapes, kiwi fruits, hazels, apples and damsons to look forward to. We have the previous owners to thank for this. This garden has been much-loved – there are about 15 species of rose, many of them heavily scented, planted in borders and against walls.

And today's harvest, for Lughnasadh, are these cape gooseberries. Little fiery suns.

I'm thinking about giving thanks for our harvests, and how, on so many levels, what we are giving thanks for is the fruit of others' labour, whether we know those others or not. Of course, there is the earth; the sun; the rain (when it comes – here the promise is pushed back day after day). There are those who grow our food for us, since most of us  don't grow our own; those who harvest it, pack it, deliver it.

Whether or not you eat animals or their products (I don't), something still has to be sacrificed in order that we might live. Accompanying the reaping is a dying, too.

What we are today comes from others, human or other-than-human. Our very cells are made up of others' cells.
Of course, there are metaphorical harvests too; and in an equally real, albeit non-material, way, who we are today is also a result of others: their gifts, their kindnesses, their teachings, their wisdom, their lendings, what they have offered and what we have taken.

And then there is immeasurable gratitude to whatever animating spirit it is that fires the cosmos, and consciousness.

Tomorrow morning, when I wake, before the various anxieties about the world kick in, I am determined to turn my mind, and thanks, to the harvests, past and ongoing, that have come my way from others; the many blessings of this (and any) time.

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