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Monday, July 28, 2008

Lammas

Happy Lammas Everyone!

The Pagan Festival of Lammas ("Loaf-Mass") is a quarter day (1st August) between Litha (the Summer Solstice) and Mabon (the Autumn Equinox). It represents the festival of the first wheat harvest of the year, the cutting of hay, the picking of fruit. On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop. In many parishes in Great Britain it lingers on as the "harvest festival".

Hay has been cut and lies in windrows to dry before gathering up

In this Cumbrian farm, the hay is already safely baled up - see the rows of black plastic-coated bales in front of the farm? Whatever happened to the haystacks if yesteryear in which kids hunted for needles?

Lammas can be a little wistful, the "tipping-point" of summer. Swifts and Cuckoos have largely left on their migrations; the spring and early summer spurt of green growth is slowing down; birds are looking scruffy and moth-eaten as they commence their annual moult; and swallow families line up on telegraph wires thinking of migration.














This Black-headed Gull is moulting out its handsome breeding-season hood for winter plumage


Swallows in line consider their route to South Africa

There are of course compensations...

Silver-washed Fritillaries are on the wing...

Country lanes are pervaded by the sweet scent of meadowsweet...

...and wild honeysuckle...

...while Harebells after a thunderstorm abound in the sand dunes...

...and blackberries are turning pink (blackberry and apple pie only a week or two off!)

And how should I celebrate my own Festival of Lammas?

What nicer than a rustic wholemeal loaf, a wedge of Blue Wensleydale cheese (and maybe that little jar of jam stolen from a posh restaurant) washed down with ice-cold elderflower drink that has been, errrm... shall we say, fortified...

Happy Lammas Everybody!

Since publishing the first edition of this post, I have discovered this!

22 Comments:

Blogger Maalie said...

I must hasten to point out to certain person(s) that Lammas has absolutely nothing to do with LLAMAS.

11:34 pm  
Blogger simon said...

NOW you are talking mate!!!

12:24 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Well, happy Llamas day to you too!

There are still plenty of swifts racing around the garden here. Maybe we just have plenty of insects for them to eat.

8:01 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

'the edible seaweed' bit after

'Dulse ... believe it or not is '
didn't come out. Good job that we know what it is without being told. Glenys sells it in the Health Food Shop (along with goji berries).

9:30 am  
Blogger Shrinky said...

What a delightful post, the photography is wonderful, and your knowledge of the wildflowers and birds is fascinating Jim. The final picture looks irresistable, a regular feast. Looks like you did indeed have a happy Lammas day.

11:13 am  
Blogger Viking Warrior said...

Only girlies celebrate Lammas.
Thor eats Lammas worshippers for breakfast.

12:47 pm  
Blogger Maria said...

B E A U T I F U L !

1:20 pm  
Blogger Ex-Shammickite said...

I think I'll have a Lammas party. But I'm not inviting that Viking Warrior, he'll just spoil all the fun with his plundering and pillaging ways.

2:08 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

I dunno Shammy. I quite fancy a bit of pillaging.

5:45 pm  
Blogger Ex-Shammickite said...

Depend who you're gonna do your pillaging with. I bet that Viking Warrior chap pongs a bit of pickled herring.

10:46 pm  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Chuck us some of that tasty cheese and I will leave the gulls alone!

Happy Lorenzybum day!

11:57 pm  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Keen eye and camera to go with that! Great pics. Does look good, that is, the food.

11:36 am  
Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Hands off my Viking Warrior, Llama!!

Maalie - a question. The Lammas festival celebrates the first harvest, but it must be celebrated a while after the harvest, is this correct? As you would need the time to make the flour to bake the bread to bring to the festival - or does this only take a day or so to do after the harvest is first gathered?

Is the festival traditionally based on season/sun/moon or is the festival chosen based on when the first harvest is gathered?

Sorry to be so serious about it all - I'm just curious.

2:24 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

JLS: Viking Warrior is all yours!
Your questions about the harvest, flour, bread etc. remind me of a book called "The Little Red Hen and the Grains of Wheat" which I used to read to the children when they were little. They demanded this book so many times that Jack knew the whole thing by heard! And I think he still does!

9:20 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Whoops, that's 'heart' not 'heard'.
Or as Maalie would say, 'knew it by blood pump'.

9:22 am  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

It seems only days ago that I saw blackberries just forming in northern Spain.... but it is already more than three weeks since I left there! Now I am in the coldest part of winter here. Hrmmpph.

10:40 am  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Maalie,
you have received an award over at my blog.

Of course do whatever you like with it. Hope you're continuing to enjoy your summer in hiking and exploring.

12:53 pm  
Blogger Lavinia said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and introducing me to yours. Why, it's beautiful here! Happy Lammas to you...your photos are quite beautiful....its a gorgeous countryside as you show it, those pics could be postcards. The last photo..the still life...is so attractive---the colours, the composition, very artistic. I'd like to sit down to that....

12:29 pm  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

So where in the world are you now?

Cook us some kippers!

9:39 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks for comment everyone! Right now I am in Cumbria having an ornithological week. More soon...

7:43 am  
Blogger Metamatician said...

My what a sight Cumbria is! Come visit my blog Maalie in a couple of days and I shall have some lovely pictures of the wine country in Northern California up which hopefully you will enjoy. I wonder if you've been to this part of the planet on your ornithological outages? I know a certain seaman from Seattle who tells tales...

We have some fine example of bald eagles, various hawks and other raptors, loads of owls, and many other bird both predatory and of a more (or less!) sanguine nature which I am lucky to see all the time during my treks in the wild - or even just outside my window at breakfast! Yesterday I had a family of wild turkeys saunter by not ten yards from me; unfortunately I couldn't get my camera in time to document the even, but there common around here so next time I shall shoot them (to a CCD of course).

Thanks for the lesson on Lammas Day; I really had no idea about it at all, even though I'm not entirely stupid when it comes to pagan holidays and traditions. What a sensible thing to do to celebrate when the crops are harvested! Of course as you point out this is done even now in rural communities, it just doesn't get the sort of recognition is ought to as a holiday. Divorced even further from our agricultural roots, we have become...

2:31 pm  
Blogger Raelha said...

The neighbours around here have their own little celebration once they've done the haymaking - they'll roast one of their lambs and get a crate or two of cider out. Once the apple juice is flowing they'll provide their own musical entertainment in the form of the gaita (similar to the bagpipes but it doesn't sound so harsh) with some vocal accompaniment in Asturian.

Ooh, a blue Wensleydale! I'm missing my British cheeses, especially the blue ones. Stilton is available here, but at €22 a kilo. I haven't felt monnied enough to buy any yet. That wine looks rather tasty too. I'm sure you enjoyed your own celebrations

12:21 pm  

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