Thursday, September 8, 2016

the harvest of john barleycorn



Harvest time.

People who work the land are in the fields day and night now to bring in the harvest. My memories of growing up are anchored in this chaotic, exciting, sleepless and sacred season in the life of a farmer's family. It didn't always seem so great at the time but witnessing the work of sowing, nurturing, growth, harvest and rest from spring through fall to spring again, year after year, gave me a template for living.

In my little garden right now, harvest means picking and cooking green beans for dinner, gathering beets and onions (many) and purple carrots (not many) and cucumbers and tomatoes (not many) to eat, freeze or put in the dye-pot. Harvesting is collecting sunflower heads to dry and store in a paper bag for the birds when the weather gets cold. It's cutting comfrey leaves and calendula flowers to dry for body oils and healing salves....and it's gathering basil for pesto, grapes for juice and elderberries for syrup. Harvest has really only just begun.


After I baked a batch of beets the other day, recipe here, I 1) peeled and cut them up to freeze; 2) poured the delicious leftover oil and juices from the baking dish into a little jar for future vegetable or salad dressing; 3) used the peelings to make a dye-bath for a bundled silk scarf. 


It is a good feeling to actually use all parts of something for a change. 


5-minute bread was made. Actually, the loaf took 5 minutes of prep extended over about a 21-hour stretch using an 18-hour initial rise.


I think the recipe said a 4-year-old could make it and that is probably true. Don't let that sway you though, it's still very good.



John Barleycorn is an age-old British folk song about the harvest of grain crops for bread and drink. Like bread and beer recipes, there are many versions, I love the words, and it's harvest time after all.


On an inner level, harvest means choosing what to take with you into the future. We have a choice on what and how much to carry forward as we enter these next darker, slower months of short days and long nights. We, and only we, get to decide what sustains us in meaningful ways as we go deeper. By the act of choosing what is wanted and needed, we automatically leave behind the unnecessary and don't even need to give it a second thought. Being "for" something rather than "against" something is empowering.

I like to travel lightly this time of year. How about you? xx

8 comments:

liniecat said...

You always make me think after one of your posts, thank you!
I hadn't thought of 'harvest' in this way before but it makes perfect sense that in harvesting the years produce, you can then move on and leave behind what's no longer necessary.
And that being for something is more empowering and healthy than being against something.
For one thing I'm going to drop my angst over the parking fine lol
and then weed out some other annoying/ unsettling thoughts too!
Fabulous scarf result, love the colours!

Luna Crone said...

What a beautiful scarf. More beautiful, because the color was made, by Nature and by you...

"Being "for" something rather than "against" something is empowering." I am trying...

I look forward to this coming darker, slower time, of Winter. At 79, going-fast-fast-fast does not appeal to me. :-) Calmer introspection, in a cozy home-place, does.

Actually, I want to achieve going-lightly, at all times of the Turning of the Wheel of the Year. Want... Still working on it....

Luna Crone

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

the last paragraph, and yes as is said in the two comments above...
being For rather than Against...Thank you

Els said...

Thanks Peggy for the thoughts about harvest-time ;-)

I'm amazed by the beet-red silk .... !
Let's hope it stays that way !!!

Mo Crow said...

such a beautiful post!

Pam said...

Just beautiful. I will think about your last paragraph while stitching tonight, and THANK YOU for including Traffic singing 'John Barleycorn'. Brings me back.

handstories said...

Your positive energy and wisdom always comes shining through (& your ability to harvest rainbows-gorgeous scarf!)

cindy said...

THIS TIME OF YEAR I ALWAYS REEVALUATE MY LIFE AND TRY TO REMOVE OR HARVEST THINGS THAT ARE NOT A POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON ME. I AM NOT TRAVELING THIS TIME OF YEAR, BUT I AM BUSY HARVESTING MY HERBS TO MAKE SALVES. LOVE THE SONG. HAVE YOU TRIED DYING WITH ONION SKINS?