Sunday, August 02, 2020

A Feast of First Fruits

Lammas Day, or "Loaf -mass" day is a holiday on the Christian liturgical calendar that's still observed in some countries north of the equator -- traditionally on August 1.  It marks the blessing of the 'First Fruits' of the harvest, particularly where wheat and other bread-making grains are grown.  "Lammas-tide", when the wheat harvest begins, is the name for the days between the Summer Solstice in June and the Autumn Equinox in September -- in other words, now.  

Traditionally, a loaf of bread, sometimes nested in a basket with flowers, is brought to church on that day to mark the blessing, and it is then often broken and used as the bread in the celebration of the Eucharist.

I don't eat as much bread as I used to, but when I do, I like to make it myself (I have a bread-maker because I've never been able to master the art of kneading) and I love it fresh and warm, or toasted, with a bit of butter and home-made jam.

In the last ten days or so, the rhubarb (several cups chopped and frozen; some baked into coffee cake, some stewed and eaten with yogourt) has been joined by a harvest of Saskatoon berries (12 cups in the freezer, 3 cups given to a neighbour, and an unmeasured amount eaten fresh), and this morning I just picked my third colander-full of raspberries, with more ripening on the canes.

My 'First Fruits' -- raspberries and rhubarb

I've enjoyed them fresh, in a bowl with a bit of milk and sugar, over yogourt or ice cream...and just now I've "jammed" four jars, each holding a cup or so of my favourite simple jam: berries, sugar and lemon juice.  Something tells me there's bread in my near future... 😉

The rest of my garden continues prolific as well.  Though the peonies have finished blooming, the hollyhock -- mine is white -- is just coming into its own, and there are wee pearls of cherry tomatoes starting on my seed-started plants.  

My daughter visited a couple of weeks ago; she has an app on her phone that identifies flora -- some of the time, at least! -- and found the name of this one for me.  It came with my house and there's this batch of it at the corner of the peony bed as well as a larger quantity of it competing for space now with my raspberries.  I've always found it very pretty, but it's a spreader, and has to be reigned in regularly!

"Cluster Bell Flower"

I have a long, curving flower bed on the southwest corner of my property.  Again, it came with the house, but over the almost dozen years I've been here, I've added to and subtracted from it regularly to make it mine.  The photo below is just a sampling of what's in that bed.

White yarrow, purple sage, deep pink shrub roses,
marigolds just under the rose bush,
 and orange agapanthus just beyond that.

Weather-wise it's been darned hot -- what I call "the cat days of summer".  Because my studio is hot much of the day right now, I've been dividing my time according to shade and breeze distribution.  I start out on my front stoop, in the shade of the north side of the house, and move to the back as the sun permits.

When there's just the right amount of shade from the trees above, and just the right hint of a breeze, Miss Pookie likes to sit near me on the bench in the Outdoor Studio. have a cat's life!  

I've been focused on hand-work.  The Toronto sampler is finished and now trimmed to size and pinned for hemming so I can attach the bellpull hardware.  Meanwhile, I've begun a cross-stitch entitled "Man Cave", for my neighbour John for Christmas.  John's not really the gardner in the family -- his wife is -- but he has a collection of sheds filled with all manner of supplies for car maintenance, home maintenance and garden maintenance.  One of these -- his newest -- is a mini-barn, a brilliant red (as it should be) with white trim.  I've been trying to persuade him to let me hang a barn quilt on the windowless wall that faces my side of the barn, but he's not been keen.  Perhaps he'll hang this inside, over his work bench.  Whaddya think?  😉

Designer: Peter Underhill
Source: Heritage Crafts

I have another piece to do up for his wife, Edna, of course, which I hope will suit their bedroom or living room.  It's "Spring in the Air" from Just Nan -- very feminine, very flowery, very pretty.  I've had it -- fully kitted up -- for several years, including the lovely silk threads (!), and am really looking forward to doing it up for her.

In keeping with Christmas-in-the-heat-of-summer, I've started a pair of socks for my nephew in a black-and-white marl from Patons.  I'm using the same pattern as I did a few months ago for another Xmas gift -- simple, mindless knitting which I do in the early morning over coffee, breakfast and the news, or while waiting at the train crossing.

Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock 
Designer: Glenna C.
I finally got back into the sewdio (indoors) early this morning (around 6 a.m.) because it was cool and breezy enough, and the sun had yet to climb very high.  I continued my work on "Star Crazy";  I've finished and attached one 8-block side border (the block is shown here), and have two of the next 8 finished.  

I've also assembled 27 little blocks in Bonnie Hunter's current Leader/Ender Challenge, which she calls "Easy Breezy".  This is the first of these challenges I've ever done, and I've only attempted it because I have such a stash of the right size squares and rectangles (all from scraps) to make a lot of 4" (finished) blocks.  These will go with my charm squares to make more tummy time quilts for the Stepping Stones program in Lacombe.  Turns out, though, that each 36" square blankie will need 81 (!) blocks -- 1/2 piece, 1/2 charm squares (and one odd one!)  Or maybe just 32 of them -- and borders!  No never mind, I'll make the blocks as I go; they're darned satisfying to do -- no templates, no half- or quarter-square triangles, no flying geese.  Just straight-up squares and rectangles (see this photo from Bonnie's instructions), bringing order to continued chaos.  😊

As for new work...I've been puttering with respect to the second piece about 'chaos' using the 'crumb-pilations' technique.  Early this morning I finally made a decision about quilting and how to mount it on the painted stretched canvas.   I'm aiming to start work on that part tomorrow a.m., if the morning is cool enough.  My daughter photographed And It's Only June: Reflections on  2020; I've now got the results in a Drop Box file, awaiting my review.

And so it goes.  August 5th brings another hair cut (hooray!!) -- it'll be seven weeks since my last one.  August 8th brings another of Joe Cunningham's online workshops -- this one, on how he uses just two colours to create a quilt -- and the 15th brings (I hope!) a road trip to a quilt shop, a mobile yarn shop, and perhaps an outdoor art show, with a gal pal.  

The 17th brings a day trip to Calgary for a dental check-up (delayed since May due to COVID).  Both Calgary and Edmonton have now mandated masks to be worn in indoor public places, like shopping malls, so I will go equipped.  My dentist's office is in a professional building connected to a large indoor mall, and it's not far from a strip mall with a Chapter's/Starbucks outlet -- my favourite books and coffee all in one place!  When I go to The Big City, a stop there is a must, and I won't mind in the least wearing a mask so I can enjoy it at my leisure before heading north again to my little piece of heaven on the rolling prairie.

Old barn at the home of my long-arm quilter
and her DH --
near the eastern shore of Buffalo Lake, Alberta

That wide sky continues to nourish my soul, which in turn "feed[s] my inner artist" -- which is Nina Marie's topic this week over at Off the Wall Friday.  I leave you with a wish for you to be nourished, inspired, encouraged, safe and well as the summer travels on through August to whatever waits in the fall.

Take care -- and come back soon!


Kate said...

My son, a new Alberta resident asked me to identify the purple Sage, last week. Glad I got it right!

Enjoy your trip to Calgary. It is certainly a different world out there.

Kathie Briggs said...

Purple sage! So that's what's in my neighbor's front yard. Lucky you with your lovely harvest. We got 2 tomatoes before the squirrels ate the rest. I actually caught one of the little vermin with a beautiful ripe tomato. Oh well, maybe I'll find a farm stand. Enjoy your lovely outdoor studio.

Judy Martin said...

You have been very busy Margaret. Take good care of yourself xo

elle said...

Its been hot here. I am glad you are enjoying your expanded yard. First fruits go so good with my favourite - toast! Although this year our saskatoons were not as prolific.