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Today is the first of August, the traditional date of the Gaelic festival of Lughnasadh, in honour of the god Lugh. Although worshipping gods isn’t something I particularly go in for, if a particularly threatening Theist were to hold a gun to my head and demand I pick one, I think it would be Lugh. There’s something about spear-wielding sun gods that, if you’ve known me for a while, you won’t be surprised to know appeals to me.
It’s also the date of the frequently conflated Saxon and medieval British festival of Lammas, the beginning of the harvest season. And while I have no land of my own to harvest — not yet even a garden to pick from — there’s a patch of waste ground near our flat that provides a harvest of its own.
We live in a big town where people grow up believing that food comes from supermarkets, and although that’s a sad state of affairs, it does mean that the blackberries (and later the sloes) are ours for the taking.
This year the ground is carpeted with oregano too, and crawling with butterflies and bees and Barnet’s moths at this time of year.
It’s no secret that I’m bad at summer cooking. Although summer is my favourite season, it always seems to be autumn in my kitchen. Tonight’s dinner is slow-roasted brisket of beef, followed by apple and blackberry crumble. It’s a little out of place around a table in August, but none of our guests complained.
From now until Hallowe’en we will continue to harvest what we can from the hedges and the waste ground in our part of town. But for now, our first little harvest is in and eaten, and it’s time to enjoy the long high summer month ahead.