Sunday, 9 October 2011
Harvest Home 2011
The moon nearest the Autumn equinox (around September 23) is known as the Harvest Moon, but that was back on 12 September. The coming moon on October 11 is known as the Hunter's Moon although it can be called the Harvest Moon if the moon phase falls closest to the equinox in a given year.
It didn't this year but never mind; the harvest comes in from August onwards and is still going on, so this was a good weekend for a Harvest festival. Given the burst of hot days last week it worked out well. Besides, the children have been back at school for just over a month so they've had time to do projects on Where Our Food Comes From.
The modern consumer parade of seasonal food doesn't catch what we know is the deeper psychological truth; there isn't going to be any food made for months. People want, profoundly, to store life against the depths of the winter, near the solstice, when we will need captive sunshine. Maybe there should be more tinned food in the displays, or more exhibitions of salting, drying and preserving in sugar. It is one thing to produce food, quite another to be able to shift it forward, each jar a tiny time capsule.
The bees do it best with their immortal honey and beautiful wax but they are in great danger and nobody knows quite why their numbers are dropping and colonies are crashing. The British Beekeeper's Association asks that in the meantime, please could everyone put in bee-friendly plants, especially for May and June where the bees need all the help they can get.
Plants I've found are robust and take hardly any looking-after are foxgloves, hollyhocks, lavender and thyme. They might need a trim when the bees are finished with them but otherwise they just get on with it. As the hollyhock flowers tend to drop off and lay around on the path it's best to plant them at the back of the border where you don't have to sweep them up.
The Anglo-Saxons had a charm for bees and St Benedict had a Catholic prayer for them. As we are largely dependent on the bees for pollination or there won't be a next harvest, it is urgent to discover what is causing the colonies to collapse. A prayer on the side never does any harm, though. Other practical advice from the British Bee Keepers Association.