The Growing Season Begins to Wind Down

Summer                                                             Hiroshima Moon

On Wednesday we move from the growing season emphasis of early summer to the harvest emphasis of late summer.  The Celtic calendar marks that change on August 1st which begins the season of Lughnasa, a first fruits time.  Yes, harvesting has happened before this, but now the inflection is on crops for sale, trade or preservation.

[ in precipitation in during the growing season (after Meehan et al. 2004 and Bowen et al. 2005)]

If any of you saw the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the first, agrarian phase of Great Britain before the industrial revolution is the time the Celtic calendar marks.  It is not a calendar for an industrialized or a technological society though it has an important place in both.  Industrialization and technology both move us away from direct experience of the
natural world and especially from the source of our food.  The Celtic calendar gets its seasons from the botanical and meteorological rhythms, not the work day or the academic year or the never asleep world of the internet.

Those other rhythms, the Taylorized day or the instantaneous cyber world, lead us away from natural rhythms into a cultural space dominated by rationality, science and human control.  In the Celtic calendar the natural world rules, just as it does yet today, though we hide ourselves from it with thermostats, electric lights and high speed broadband.

This is not an either/or situation; there is a dialectic between the world of human artifice and the world which brings the thunder and the lightning and the rain, which grows the food, which gives us night and day.  Yet.  So many of us, in our air conditioned, wired, well-lit by electricity homes, obscure or forget or ignore that our food grows in the soil, the flesh of mother earth.  That it depends on water either from rain or from irrigation, this dependent of rain and replenishment of hidden aquifers.  That the sun which gives food the energy we need does so without human intervention or assistance.

All of our civilization has as its foundation, its literal without which nothing support, the vegetative world.  And we do not control it.  We can help it, nurture it, bless it, curse it, but we cannot make plants grow.  We can only provide or protect the conditions under which they do so.  In our amnesia about this simple, stark fact we pave over farmland, alter the chemical conditions under which plants grow, change their genetic patterns trying to extend our control, but all this begs the question.  How did the vegetative world get along without us?

The answer?  Just fine.  This is not a rant, this is a reflection of our current reality.  It is the hope of ancientrails that it can serve as one reminder.  One reminder of the essential, unique and healing power of the world beyond our control.

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