On Getting Reaped at Lammas

large hailstone in palm of hand

The scythe of the gods — multiply by several thousands

A friend in Poland has a small farm, and he has been teaching himself to mow the meadows with a scythe. We have email conversations sprinkled with words like “snath” and “peening,” which I know only from reading.1)He is an American expatriate, but I suppose that he has learned the equivalent Polish terms as well. He says that his elderly neighbors think his scything technique is amateurish, whereas the younger ones wonder why he does not use a machine.

Nevertheless, we were scythed at  Lammastide.

On Friday the 4th, M. and I went to Colorado Springs for a “city day,” hanging out with my cousin at Coffee Exchange, thrift-store bargain-grabbing, picking up her laptop that was being repaired, buying wine, visiting a bookstore,  and also Nightingale Bread, where an Orthodox Christian baker speaks of “the spiritual symbolism of death and resurrection cycles (a plant’s grain milled into flour and revived as bread) inherent in bread-making.”2)A hefty loaf made from organic Turkey Red winter wheat costs $8, which makes it an occasional treat, but it is very good.

Then we came home to destruction. The first clue was the piles of leaves on the road when we left the state highway. Then M. looked at her gardens and went into shock.

Sunflowers—decapitated. Beans and tomatoes—blasted. Squash and gourd plants—nothing left but stems.

The corn looked as though though it had been machine-gunned. Many herbs were shredded. The nettle patch was reduced by half, while the woods were carpeted with fresh needles of pine and juniper, pruned from the trees.

I found a broken panel in the greenhouse roof, and the crank-up roof vent on the camping trailer was shattered. The plants in the greenhouse, mostly tomatoes, were unharmed.

All this just nine months since the last big forest fire and a week since some minor flooding on our road.

In the car the next day, she said, “Do you think we angered the gods?”

Who are “we”? The people on our road, under the narrow path of the hailstorm, which was less than a mile wide?

When you do anything agrarian — even vegetable gardening — that makes you vulnerable to weather, it is so easy to think that you are punished by some god when drought or insects or wind or hail wreck your crops. It is easy to think that someone is trying to teach you a lesson.

So what is the lesson?

Suillis granulatus

Slippery jacks. A little annoying because leaves and needles stick to them, but they *are* edible.

This morning while walking the dog I found “slippery jacks” (Suillus granulatus) appearing up behind the house under the pines — we see them only in wet Augusts, and this is one of those.

So it’s time to change and adapt — and look for mushrooms, while we hope that some parts of the garden will recover.

After Lammas, it’s hunting-and-gathering time. So that’s the lesson — move on.

Notes   [ + ]

1. He is an American expatriate, but I suppose that he has learned the equivalent Polish terms as well. He says that his elderly neighbors think his scything technique is amateurish, whereas the younger ones wonder why he does not use a machine.
2. A hefty loaf made from organic Turkey Red winter wheat costs $8, which makes it an occasional treat, but it is very good.

3 Comments

  1. Medeina Ragana says:

    I mow an area with blackberry brambles and weeds with a scythe because the area is basically a ditch that is two feet deep and about one foot wide which you cannot mow with my lawn tractor. In fact, this year I got stuck in the mud on the other side of this ditch which never used to be muddy before, and we haven’t really had a lot of rain. I think we’re even under normal rainfall so far. Anyhow, the only way I found to get rid of the brambles which catch onto my arm, even if I try to avoid them, and then they rip pieces of my flesh out and it starts to bleed (sacrifice to the blackberry gods?) is to mow them with a scythe that has a “medium” blade on it meant to cut weeds, brambles and small saplings no more than an inch in diameter. Works well and I get to practice my Tai Chi walking at the same time! What do I mean by that? Well, in both Tai Chi and in mowing, you use your hips and legs to swing the blade, not your arms because the power comes from the legs. Not an easy thing to do, but, as they say, practice makes perfect!

    Glad to hear everyone was okay after your storm.

  2. Ian Elliott says:

    My coven, which I still advise from Norway, is in Colorado Springs. I am in regular touch with them. The HPS is Wendy Morris, and they participate in local Pagan events.

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