Lammas 2016

osprey fishing

Lammas …new loaf from the first corn but, of course, that’s quite new for paleo-folk like me! After farming, which is only about 6,000 years old in Britain. So what did we do before we became farmers? Lammas is the first season after the sun has begun the downward journey back into the Earth. Go out in the woods, forests, by the sea, rivers, and sit for an hour in one place and just watch. Observe how the trees, grasses, herbs, land herself is different to how it was up to Midsummer. The energy is quite different, doing different stuff.

And watch the animals and birds too, and the fish if you have the chance. One thing to note particularly is that the birdsong is much less now. Up to Midsummer it was loud and all the time pretty well, now there’s very little, and hardly any morning chorus. Why? Well think about it … the chicks are fledged and looking so cute on our feeder, and the parents are probably going “Phew! that’s done for this year!” … and they’re moulting! changing their scruffy battered feathers from the chick-producing time for new ones to take them through the winter. When your feathers are a mess you don’t fly quite so well, and it probably means you don’t feel on top of your game either, add in you’re knackered from bringing up the chicks and you’re not likely to feel like singing much!

How about other animals, mammals in particular? Their kids take longer to grow up, maybe a couple of years, and some carry on with the milk for quite a time. Making milk for your kids takes a lot of food for your body, you have to do a lot of eating whether you’re a herbivore or a carnivore, or even an omnivore (like us). The kids are probably much better on their feet now but have got to the playful stage and may not be relied upon to lie still in cover while you go off to eat … thus become prey for equally hungry carnivores with kids to feed. This must be worry at the back of your mind while you’re out grazing, and worry takes some “condition” off animals – just like us!

Then if you’re a carnivore – like the sparrowhawk family that hunts my garden – you’re always concerned that you may miss, not get the prey you’re after, and the chicks will go hungry. Carnivores have much tougher lives than herbivores and are much less likely to succeed in rearing their young. There have been some sad moments with the osprey family I follow, the Dyfi Ospreys, who have just lost their beautiful young daughter. This is by no means unusual, all birds of prey, indeed wild animals in general, have a very low breeding success rate. And it’s a good job they do or we’d be up to our ears in them … as we are now in humans! Herbivores do better than carnivores, this is necessary because they are the food stock for the carnivores, and part of the food stock for the omnivores. Nature really does know, what she’s doing and organises herself very well when we get out of her way!

So, how does this make us think about celebrating Lammas?

I celebrate the growth of new young life, and the success of the parents who’ve got the kids this far.

My personal celebration is to go out to my “Woody Bit” in the garden and light a little fire. I cook myself some dinner on it and then sit in the twilight, the gloaming, as the fire dies down and listen and watch the creatures I share the garden with go through their evening rituals. I let my threads flow out, very gently and softly, and connect with all the life around me. As I sit there the life talks to me through the threads, tells me about how it is to be a grass or flower or tree right now, tells me about being a bird or a hedgehog, or one of the little field mice or shrews who live here, or one of the moles. Maybe the fox or the badgers will come into the garden to play.

This is journeying for me. It’s not about me! It’s about them, all the life I share the garden, and the Planet, with. They talk with me, educate me, enlarge my vision. And that’s Lammas for me.