In Britain, up to the time of the Middle Ages, this was the day when offerings were made for a good grain harvest. The people came to church and brought offerings of loaves of bread baked from the new wheat. This is how the day got its name - lammas is a shortening of "loaf Mas." Although the day is no longer celebrated, it is a precursor of other special days still very much alive - England's modern harvest festival and America's Thanksgiving.
And more from All Year Round:
This was a harvest festival, celebrating the fruitfulness of the Earth Mother and took the form of a "first fruits" offering. The Anglo-Saxon Christians transformed this into "Hlaf-Maesse" or "Loaf-Mass" which has given us the name Lammas. A loaf was baked with grain reaped at the very beginning of the harvest and not allowed to stand for the customary three Sundays; this loaf was offered at the Mass.
Today, in honor of the "first fruits" of the harvest, I was going to bake peach cornmeal muffins for my family. I say was going to because as it turned out our peaches had worn out their welcome, if you catch my drift. Of peaches we have none, but fruit flies? We've got plenty.
Anyhoo. I did ask Bill to stop at the farm stand on the way home tonight and surprise us with a small selection of fresh local produce - a sampling of what's good and ripe right now. (The boys and I were without transportation today so that scuttled our plans for a trip to the farm.) I'll bet there will be corn, but hopefully also some tomatoes, zucchini and - better late than never - juicy ripe peaches! A few items will go in a basket for the table, the rest will end up on our supper plates.
Another fun thing to do on Lammas Day is to honor the agrarian rhythm of the year, and look up your local harvest calendar. Thanks to Lisa at 4Real, I found this site which lists links for each state. I was able to print off the fruit and vegetable schedule for the coming months. I really like buying produce in season whenever possible - better for us, better for the earth and great for local farmers. The chart I printed out should be helpful in planning out meals for each turn of the year.
Today I also cleared off the learning display table, wiped it all down - windows too - and set it all up for the new month. I thought afterwards that I should have snapped a few "before" pictures for Lorri's upcoming Loveliness Fair (Clearing the Clutter). Though, really my "after" still looks pretty cluttered, lol! But this is "controlled clutter," you see. It's meant to be a cozy, colorful little spot with lots of things to look at and choose from. (Not to fear though, Lorri; I have plenty of other "before" spots around here for your Fair!)
As for reading today, Groundhog's Garden would be a nice choice, as would The Little Farm by the Sea, not to mention The Little Red Hen (which we don't own, but whose story we know by heart). I set up the puppet basket with a cast of the characters making headlines in our backyard of late. Earlybird is really into pretend play right now so we'll re-enact a few things, especially some recent near-miss hawk encounters.
Here's the wide shot:
And now for some close-ups and a brief tour:
Perched in the window are a few favorite summertime picture books; in the foreground are some of our nature puppets (hawk, blue jay, red squirrel, groundhog, black squirrel, raccoon, golfinch, grackle).
A bowl of wooden "first fruits" along with a few more books representing themes of the season.
Bonfires, corn fields, the grain harvest and raccoons ... all August themes. To the right you see Tasha Tudor's A Time to Keep, open to her fabulous August pages.
Now this next picture takes a little explaining. Just file this one under How Much Do I Love My Kids?
This is a badge my Bookworm made and attached to his shirt the other morning after we spotted and chased off a neighbor's cat, thereby saving the life of some small creature or another. Today, we had another close call with that hawk (a cooper's hawk we now believe him to be) - not just once but three times!! Each time, incredibly, we happened to see him out the windows as he landed and were able to scare him off before he made away with any of our favorite little critters. He seems particularly bent on getting our red squirrels. (And yes, yes, I know a hawk's gotta eat - but he doesn't have to eat my little red squirrels!)
Bookworm has taken this responsibility very seriously and patrols the windows regularly. He has set up noisemakers and squirt guns kept at the ready and of course, he made himself and his brothers these badges. They say: Nature Protection - Elite Force.
He also set up his sentry:
This would be Pooch, our long haired "wolfie" cat. BW set up this cozy little basket bed, which of course means Pooch mostly just sleeps instead of doing any actual guarding.
Here is the daily news page Bookworm made up; he also updated his blog with news of the attacks.
Now the next picture has nothing to do with hawks or squirrels or fruit, but it has a lot to do with August for me:
Do you have movies that you watch again and again at a particular time of the year? For me, in August, it's always Meet Me in St. Louis, which I thought I had lost, but Bill found it last night. Hooray! I know what I'm watching tonight while I fold laundry! I love that first scene when the mother and housemaid are bottling homemade ketchup in the hot steamy kitchen. The family members wander in and out, weighing in on the taste of the ketchup and complaining about the late summer heat. The whole movie is filled with Victorian delights - not to mention a great story. Check it out if you haven't seen it!
And finally, although I think of myself as an autumn kind of gal, I can see from my journals that August is clearly a favorite time of year - it's like we've turned a corner, into the land of promise and plans. Like my friend Jennifer says, I love right now ...
Have a wonderful evening, my friends!