Raise the song of harvest home.
Cro's post today, with its picture of a harvest sheaf loaf brought back so many memories of my childhood in a Lincolnshire village which was largely a Methodist village that I thought I would share them with you (pure self indulgence on my part really).
There were two really important dates for us children in the Methodist calendar. One was the Sunday School Anniversary in June and the other was Harvest Festival. We lived very much in a farming community; there were three or four quite large farms in the village - a couple with milking herds and the other two with mixed crops and sheep and beef cattle. All four of the farmers were attenders at the Methodist chapel and the Harvest Festival was important to them too.
On the Saturday morning us children would go round the village and every time we saw a garden with Michaelmas daisies growing in it we would go to the door and ask if we could have some. When we had armfuls we would return to chapel, by which time the Sunday school superintendent would have strung a taut line of baler band across the bottom of each window and we would snip the heads and a small amount of stalk off and tuck them behind the band until every window was bedecked with a row of purple and yellow heads.
Then we would start on the produce - root vegetables of every kind, scrubbed to total cleanliness, still with their top growth on; stalks of Brussels Sprouts, huge Vegetable Marrows, Pumpkins, a large basket lined with straw and filled with beautiful, newly laid, brown farm eggs, several sheaves of corn brought in by the farmers and a bale of straw as a table for all the tins of fruit, vegetables, meats etc. and the jars of home made pickles and jams From the pulpit rail to the altar the space would be crammed with produce to celebrate harvest. And always Pride of Place would be given to the specially baked bread in the shape of a sheaf of wheat all shiny and brown and perfect.
This all had to be finished and the place swept up before lunch time. Then we would go home for our lunch and told to be back for two when it was time to go round the village. Oneof the farmers would provide a cart horse and cart, there would be forms round the edges and a harmonium on the end and we would pile in and go round the village singing the harvest hymns. Then it was back to the sunday school room attached to the chapel where we would tuck in to tea - potted meat sandwiches, cakes and carraway seed cake. Then the tables would be cleared away and there would be an hour of games - pass the parcel, musical chairs, oats and beans and barley grow, postman's knock. And finally an hour of films - Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Charlie .Chaplin. Now we were all set for Sunday.
The usual services morning and evening with all the harvest hymns and then on Monday evening all the produce would be sold and it would all be over for another year. Looking back - simple pleasures but a lot of this was during the Second World War and boy how we looked forward to it.