Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

It's Lughnasadh and....

.....guess what I was doing 40 years ago today?

DH and I were married in the little country church of St Thomas, Henbury in Cheshire on August 1st 1972. It was a lovely day (in all senses of the word) apart from a thunderstorm during the reception. We were indoors by then so it didn't matter:)

My two bridesmaids, Lesley in pink and Sandi in blue.

Lughnasadh is the festival that celebrates the beginning of the harvest season, from now on the crops of grain and fruit will be gathered in and stored against the long dark days of winter. It was always a time of fairs, markets and in ancient times there were great sporting contests held in honour of the god Lugh. We certainly have the sporting contests going on at present and I shall be spending the day at Bakewell Agricultural Show which is pretty appropriate as well.
I leave you with the old folk song of John Barleycorn which describes the life, death and resurrection of the grain.It tells the story of John Barleycorn, who was killed, buried, sprang up in the spring, grew stronger in the summer and grew weaker in the autumn. The barley harvest was the source of not only bread but also beer which was what everyone, including children, drank until quite recent times. During the brewing of beer the water is boiled and therefore sterilized making it safe to drink - more than could be said for most of the water that was available!

John Barleycorn

There were three men came out of the west,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn must die.
They've ploughed, they've sowed, they've harrowed him in,
Throwed clods upon his head,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn is dead.
They've let him lie for a long, long time
Till the rain from heaven did fall,
Then little Sir John popped up his head,
And soon amazed them all.
They've let him stand till midsummer day
when he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John's grown a long, long beard
And so become a man.

They've hired men with the scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee,
They rolled him and tied him by the waist,
And served him most barbarously.
They've hired men with the sharp pitchforks
Who pricked him to the heart,
And the loader he served him worse than that,
For he bound him to the cart.

They've wheeled him round and round the field
Till they came unto a barn,
And there they've made a solemn mow
of poor John Barleycorn.
They've hired men with the crab-tree sticks
To cut him skin from bone,
And the miller he's served him worse than that,
For he's ground him between two stones.

Now, here's little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl,
And brandy in a glass;
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
Proves the strongest man at last.
For the huntsman he can't hunt the fox,
Nor so loudly blow his horn,
And the tinker he can't mend kettles nor pots
Without a little Barleycorn.

The 'crab-tree sticks' are the flails used to thresh the grain and the 'nut brown bowl' is the wooden drinking vessel that would have been used by ordinary people in times gone by. Glass drinking vessels were expensive and would be used only by the wealthy. Happy Lughnasadh!


val's alentejo said...

Dear Rowan,
Happy Anniversary..40 years a milestone..congratulations.
I love the story of John Barleycorn..
lovely interesting post and pictures depicting the thrashing of the corn. (still done in parts of portugal)
Happy Lughnasadh day.
best wishes
val x x

val's alentejo said...

Its early Rowan.. i was looking back at some of your posts particular one of 2006.. You went on a visit to S.A and to a place that is around 1 half hour away from my old home. The Berg is beautiful. I did a post about Africa and my friends beautiful home in the Berg. I have spent many a holiday there.

ps. you both look wonderful in your wedding photo.
I was married in 1965.

Jenny Woolf said...

Happy anniversary - ruby I think!
The John barleycorn lyrics have made me try to remember the melody-, but I confess I've never heard of the frstival

elaine rickett said...

Forty years eh - how things have changed since then. I have never read the John Barleycorn poem before - don't know how I've missed that one - lovely. Glad you've got your blogging inspiration back.

Bovey Belle said...

Congratulations on such a long and happy married life (you made a lovely couple btw!) I can remember singing along with the John Barleycorn song when I used to go to Folk Club.

Good to see you back in print, so to speak.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Happy Anniversary and Congratulations to you both! I hope it stays fine for Bakewell Show. My mum used to take me when I was little. She loved the rose tent, it's perfume was overwhelming!

Cottage Tails said...

Welldone and congrats on reaching 40 years - very special!

Happy Lughnasadh too! down under we are welcoming Imbolc.
Love Leanne

Rosie said...

Lovely to see your post pop up in my box this morning! Happy Ruby Wedding to you and your DH. Have a lovely day:)

Ash said...

Well done you for 40 years...I wish!
Thanks for the timely reminder of lughnasadh - I've got myself so busy with life I'm forgetting about the living!! Cheers.

Wanda..... said...

Happy 40th Anniversary, Rowan.

Hilaire said...

Good to hear from you, Rowan and thanks for posting the John Barleycorn song. I heard Carol Anne Duffy read a poem incorporating all the pubs with John Barleycorn names, it was very clever, I'd love to read it again.

Happy Anniversary!

Hilaire said...

In case you're interested I just googled the poem and found it transcribed here:

Well worth a read!

Hilaire said...

Not sure if my last comment with a link to the poem was published as the cat stood on the keyboard at the crucial moment!

Just in case, here it is again:

Well worth a read, it may be on YouTube too.

Mac n' Janet said...

Happy Anniversary Rowan and thank you for the John Barleycorn, always good to start the day with a laugh.

Louise said...

Happy Anniversary. I hope you're doing something nice to celebrate!

A lovely post to mark the date too.

Sandie said...

Happy anniversary to both of you!
Lammas Blessings too.
Sandie xx

Thimbleanna said...

Happy Anniversary Rowan -- such a handsome young couple! Just the mention of barley -- there's some children's song on the edges of my memory but I just can't remember it all -- I hope it will come back to me!

jill said...

Congratulations on such a wonderful anniversary you look lovely on your photos.Lovely story and pics happy days,Happy Lughnasadh.Love Jill xx

MorningAJ said...

Happy anniversary - and a happy Lammas to you too. (I can't spell Lusan....argh. I really MUST learn it properly!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Rowan, happy anniversary. I hope you have a wonderful day. A happy Lughnasadh to you !!

Hildred and Charles said...

Lovely post, - happy anniversary. Your wedding pictures are sweet.

Morning's Minion said...

Thank you for sharing your wedding photos--oh, the hairdos we had then! August 1 was also the day my parents chose for their wedding--in 1941, sadly I have no photos.

Patricia said...

Happy Ruby Anniversary Rowan and nice to see you again. Loved the poem.
Patricia x

Pumpkin Cottage said...

Hi Rowan I am here for the first time and am really glad I stopped in! Wonderful wedding pictures!!

VintagePretty said...

Congratulations Rowan! To see your wedding photos and know that you're still happy, forty years on, is a great inspiration :) Here's to another forty!

Loved the folk song!

Best wishes!

WOL said...

Congrats and many happy returns of the day to you and your DH.

Roy said...

A stunning and beautiful Bride.
Congratulations D. and DH

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Lovely photos - lovely story. Congratulations.

debbie bailey said...

A lovely post and congratulations on being married for 40 years. Not many couples can say that!

Steph said...

A wonderful Lammas post ... I so love visiting your blog.

Many congratulations on your anniversary :-)

Medieval Muse said...

Oh, your wedding photos are so full of joy! Happy Anniversary.

I love how so many traditions and staying close to the earth are still honored in the UK. Lammas blessings to you and yours.

Jessica Cangiano said...

How tremendously lovely! Happiest congrats on 40 years. That's so inspiring wonderful, especially in this age where it seems far more marriages crumble than stand the test of time. I wish you countless more years of love and joy to come.

♥ Jessica

Rosemary UK said...

Congratulations on your anniversary,you are so very lucky to have reached this milestone.My husband and I were married on 17th August 1968,but he died aged 52 two years after our silver anniversary.

EarthAppleJane said...

Hi Rowan, what a lovely post and what a coincidence. I was also married in 1972, November, and we too will be celebrating together then! Where have the years gone?! Let's make the most of the next 40! Bye for now, Jane

Gracie said...

Sorry I'm late, please accept my belated whishes for yet many years to come!

Nan said...

A late happy anniversary to you! Love those pictures! And so enjoyed reading about Lughnasadh. And of course JB.