Saturday, August 02, 2014

First Harvest

Today, 2 August, is the Feast, or Festival of Lammas. In pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon culture, this is when the first crops were harvested, six weeks away from the autumnal equinox, and twelve short weeks away from the start of winter. (In cultures of the northern latitudes, winter started on the first of November. Samhain, better known as Halloween, is the pagan New Year’s Eve.)

Although I like to joke about “my pagan heart” I’m no more pagan than I am Jewish. I simply like the symmetry of the old calendar, and its practicality in corresponding with the seasons of planting and harvest—and that such necessary work is celebrated with drinking, feasting, and fellowship.

Clothing optional! What’s not to love?
We really don’t celebrate anything in the modern West. Christmas is the one holiday that dominates, and nearly everything about it concerns—and, ultimately, only serves—commerce. Memorial Day, Labor Day, the 4th of July, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo are drinking holidays at best. At least Halloween, like Christmas, has a component to involve the children. 

Of course, we’re too atomized by our jobs, the widening chasms of social class, etc. to comprehend communal festivals like Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, et al., so what the fuck am I saying? Never mind.

I will take this time, as appropriate to this festival, to reflect on accomplishments and regrets, and the turning wheel of the year, the turning wheel of my life. It turns out I got a good head start on that Thursday night.


I pulled on my sneakers and forced myself out for a brief walk in time to watch July fade from the sky. The clouds had broken and there were bits of open sky. After two straight days of gray drizzle it was good to see. Still, I caught a case of melancholia thinking how school will be in session in two weeks, football (the real thing) will be played in lighted stadiums throughout the land in four, and we’ll be in the greased time chute that is Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year on our way to go back, Jack, do it again. 

Winter is one cold bitch, and not very far away.
The melancholia started small, and made a move to becoming severe after I got back to the house. I forced myself to crank the Jeep and ride out to the liquor store for a 12-pack of pale ale. I put away six bottles while jamming away to my music. 

Between Welbutrin, Zoloft, and whatever else, nothing kicks my blues harder in the ass than a steady regimen of ale. The suicidal indigo blues that tortured me nearly to death last summer aren’t making a comeback. That was a sweet piece of victory, and a timely one at that, because I’m on my feet at the campus bookstore eight and more hours a day from Monday straight through Saturday. Depression is a luxury of the comfortable classes, and the unemployed.

By way of keeping my spirits up I note two things I missed in my post about the end of July. One is I had my third best month ever with the blog. Still lousy numbers, but they are trending ever so slightly up. 

The second is the remarkable bit of news that the German translation of Bleeding Kansas is available. Hell, there’s a whole page full of my books on the German Amazon site! Three years ago, I never thought I’d figure out how to write a novel. Thank the dark gods that issue was resolved. 

Yes, it’s already half-past 10 p.m. at GMT - 7 and Lammas technically ended at sunset. I’ll wind this up with Steve Winwood’s tribute to this little-known festival, with the hopes we can squeeze just a little more sweetness from what little is left of this summer.