Friday 3 October 2008

Harvest Home

Life is rushing by and before I really noticed, here we are hurtling into autumn. Today was the school harvest service and it seems we were the only house in the entire village not to realise that harvest isn't about bringing along a portion of your best produce anymore.

Yes we have no bananas, tomatoes, marrows, loaves of bread or anything else you can eat apparently at the harvest service, gifts of cash for a very deserving charity working in Africa are much preferred. Now of course I don't mind this at all but it felt like something was missing, which it was.
No wheat sheaf shaped loaves, no pumpkins and marrows lining the window sills, no shoe boxes brimming with runner beans, giant cooking apples or jars of jam. Someone said that too many out-of-date tins and packets of broken biscuits were being sent in and it was too risky to hand them onto anyone these days. Living in a rural community I can't help feeling it's a shame we no longer physically celebrate having a link with the land.

B trooped in though with a beaming smile and his basket of the half dozen cherry tomatoes I managed to rescue before the blight really took hold, some much beefier toms donated from a friend's allotment, along with prickly cucumbers, courgettes and peppers and a bunch of the traditional Michaelmas daises from our garden. I had a mixture of pride and embarrassment seeing him walk into church as the only child in school with produce to offer (btw he did tell me he'd been told it was fine to take some "Can I take some fruit and vegetables to church next week mummy?" Do you think I'm reading too much Country Living and it's wearing off on him?!)

His basket is sitting proudly on the altar now so I don't suppose it was a big problem but I'm a bit sad that it's the only one.

So as the year turns I'm thinking of making lists of things to make, places to find a smashing little something for someone and building up the anticipation to my most favourite time of the year. Look what I found, a treasure for Christmas by Susan Hill who's rapidly become one of my favourite writers. Just these opening lines are enough to make me want to get out the decorations!
Snow always fell on Christmas Eve,
fat and soft as goose feathers, like a quilt on the ground for weeks of the winter.

I'm fighting the urge to devour it though and I'm going to save this special little book for the weekend before Christmas when I'll light the fire, snuggle up with a steaming mug of something and enjoy. Can't wait.


our shabby cottage said...

I think your basket full of home grown lovliness is wonderful. It is a shame that people have lost touch with the real sense of Harvest festival.

Leisa said...

I would think that you were truly the only one who "got it". Of course that is what a harvest festival service is all about - I only experienced it once as a child and will always remember our little country church overflowing with the goodness that we had been blessed with. Your harvest basket is just beautiful.

Pipany said...

Oh Steph, I know you're really busy but I think you'll have to do a weekly post just for me! This was great - yes, to the nonsense that Harvest Festivals have become. Our daughter doesn't even have hers in a church anymore and she goes to a church school! Tins and food in packets please! Argh!!
Desperate to read the book you mentioned. Will try to get hold of it for some pre-Christmas sanity by the fire too.

Hope all's well and have a lovely weekend xx

claire said...

My 2 big boys have finished primary school but in the 8 years that 1 or the other was at the school there was never a harvest festival - not one!! Such a shame. I hope when the littles start primary school (a different one) they celebrate harvest festival.
I'm reading the magic apple tree at the minute, Steph, its lovely :) my mum has told me to get a move on as she wants to read it too!!

prettyshabby said...

What a beautiful Harvest basket, I'm a traditonalist too and when I first saw rows of Tesco value baked beans at the boys harvest festival service many years back,I was indeed made me cringe infact.Everything is about money these days not about the simple things that started off the tradition in the first thanks for the (er-humm) 'good weather' and appreciating the Harvest that the local land has provided, it's such a shame. Please carry on doing as you are Steph, don't change for the sake of others and I bet they will eventually follow.People can donate to charities at any time..this is about the Harvest. Crikey,they'll be changing it to 'supermarket thanksgiving day' next!!

I can hear the silence of the snow falling just from that beautiful excerpt, I'll definately have to look up Susan Hills books! x

Sal said...

Susan Hill is an excellent writer.I have three of her books and I love them all ;-)
Great harvest goodies!

Bovey Belle said...

At least you have supported the true spirit of the Harvest Festival. I can remember my children being asked to bring in tins when they were small, which seemed such a shame, particularly as we live in a very rural part of Wales. I missed a real opportunity to offload some of my apple crop too!

Susan Hill's writing is beautiful. Are you familiar with her book, "The Magic Apple Tree"? If not, I suggest an Amazon moment may be required . . .

Funkymonkey said...

I'm so glad you have upheld tradition Steph. It's such a shame that traditions disappear and that rules and regulations seem to govern so much of what we do.I used to love the harvest festival hymns when I was at school and seeing the stage in the hall covered in a selection of harvest time goodies.

Anonymous said...

I've just realised that I've never seen any signs outside churches or had any requests from the school for a harvest festival - I think your basket is lovely, such a shame traditions die out !!!
lisa x

pinkgreen said...

That is so sad. I think the point of Harvest has been missed slightly in your neck of the woods. Last year we had the usual tins and packets of biscuits, but we also had one child's lunch box (still intact) and a half eaten bar of chocolate. However, this year one teacher has written lyrics to their harvest song to include 'a yellow marrow' as that it pretty much all we can produce from the allotment at the moment! Maybe next year more people will follow your example.
Cathy X

Niki Fretwell said...

Hi Steph,
I agree - the harvest festival is yet another occasion to be lost from the school calendar.
Its a shame that so many people seem too busy to bother with the simpler things in life, too.
Your basket of goodies is a visual feast!

The Fairy Glade said...

Hi Steph, it's just another tradition that is gradually being eroded and it is such a shame. Thankfully, our church is still upholding the old ways. I was unable to attend the service and the harvest supper, but some of the produce was distributed to those in need and the rest is auctioned off at the supper to raise money for our needy and we also fund a school in Africa. That is what it should be about.

This Vintage Life... said...

Oh, what a shame; another lovely tradition dying out it seems. I am a bit surprised it's actually celebrated at all now though! My memories of Harvest Festival are just the same as yours. Afterwards, we (the children) would deliver the donations around the neighbourhood to the deserving. I certainly can't see that being done today.
I'm sure you're very proud of little B...he obviously enjoyed taking in his basket of produce.
Deb x

Stacey said...

I'm new to Harvest Festivals, as I'm an American living in Scotland and have only been here just 16 months... but... I think the basket sounds lovely, and just the thing! You are so right about living amidst a bountiful countryside and so many people not being connected to it anymore. Good for you and your little boy with his harvest basket! :-) Stacey

Attic24 said...

Oh Steph, your basket of produce looks absolutely beautiuful.
We have the school harvest festival in a few weeks at the little church adn I am really really looking forward to it! I too remember huge marrows and baskets of apples, lovely memories of my childhood harvest festivals. However, on the school leaflet, we have been asked to bring in TINS of fruit and veg, plus tea, coffee and sugar. ah well. I might just put in some flowers as well, just to please myself!

Ciara Brehony said...

Hi! What a gorgeous blog! So glad I stopped by. I'll be back for more!

mollycupcakes said...

Sorry to hear that the haverest wasn't what you was hoping for but I'm sure your basket looks fabulous and i hope it made everyone else that saw it remember what the true Harvest Festival is really about.
Lovely to hear that they did collect something and for a very needie corse.
I miss the good old days, to many things are changing for the worsed, lets stick together and bring our childern up how we have been not the way people are telling us to these days.
Many hgs,
Catherine x

Redwoodhouse said...

I so agree with you about the harvest, I have very lovely memories as a child of our little local church laden with fresh veg and fruit arranged in the most wonderful spectical of colour and with a huge loaf of wheat as a center piece. Lovely times.
Love your blog.

Clover Yard said...

Hi Steph, I think it's great that you're keeping the tradition going. Lead and others will follow. It's brought back some lovely memories too of hampers we used to make up for the elderly and infirm in the town. Yes, there were tinned goods but it was a supplement to the wonderful rich produce that was grown on the farms and in gardens surrounding the town. I am appauled at the laziness of some people these days, and the lack of imagination. (Argh. I have turned into my mother).

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

Ohhhh! You`re Harvest Basket... looks so lovely!
I hope that you have a lovely weekend!

Rowan said...

I find it very sad that children no longer take fresh produce to Harvest Festival - it's a sign of how far removed people are from the natural world and the turning of the seasons. It is surely about being thankful for a succesful harvest not about writing cheques for a charity however deserving it may be. Well done to you and your little boy for staying true to the real spirit of the harvest.

Kentishmaid said...

Just found your blog on a wet, windy autumn afternoon.It is a pleasure and close to my own heart. I was visiting my aged parents- both 87 a week or so ago and so was present when the local schoolchildren called by with a harvest box. My mother had been a dinner lady at the local church school for many years. They sang to her when she opened the door and then gave her a home covered box. In past years she has despaired of receiving many tins of things she cannot eat but this year it would seem there was a change. Admittedly the brocolli was plastic wrapped from the supermarket but the tomatoes loose. There were a few tins but also some apples and a plant. This from a town church school although most of the children will live in houses with gardens. My memories of harvest festival are of the elaborate boxes we covered in crepe paper.Into them went apples from the garden tree, a jar or two of jam my mother would have made and a box of blackberries which we had picked in local fields. We tucked in michaelmas daisies from the garden and virginia creeper leaves, already on the turn around the edge. Well done for you sending in your little boy with a "proper" box. Maybe, just maybe the tide will turn as we are all encouraged to grow our own veg once more.