Sadly, I don't have the usual plethora of photos from Harvest Festival. It's a shame, because it was an amazing event, and I spent quite a bit of yesterday feeling angry and resentful that I didn't see what I wanted to. But something else happened yesterday and today that was more important than what I get out of taking a lot of colorful photos.
I'm going to have to backtrack a little to get to the lesson, though...
When I was a little kid, my dad had a great job with a major technology company, however he did a lot of stuff himself. We lived in one of those little houses that most people would scoff at today. Kids having their own rooms was pretty much unheard of, and rather than moving, my dad built a second floor to our house to accommodate a growing family. He also built the garage for the house, cemented a walkway between the house and the garage, and built a "play house" for us kids, among other things. Eventually, when we did move, he also built our new house.
When I was a kid, I knew the value of money. I've blogged about doing yard work and shoveling snow for neighbors, doing art and crafts sold door to door, and doing custom embroidery work. When we moved out to the country, I also learned how to skin muskrat, how to slaughter turtle and chicken, how to preserve (freezing and canning) fruits and vegetables.
So I've pretty much always known that things don't simply pop into existence at Walmart's.
None the less, the significance of "Harvest Festival" was mostly lost on me. I understood that there was a celebration, a joy in gathering the stuff that would get you through the winter, and produce the foodstuff and fibers that would continue to sustain your family, your community... whatever.
But there's something about going out into the fields (something I haven't done since childhood) and picking the vegetables, taking them home, then preparing them yourself, that gave me such an amazing feeling of connectedness to the land, something I've only written about when I've talked about women in Chicano literature, but never experienced for myself.
The sheep were shorn in spring, and through the summer the wool was washed and ready to spin and weave through the winter. This weekend we did some dyeing, and I've got a few small lengths of the beautiful natural colors I'll be weaving into my own little bag, and some I'll do a small colcha design with. I'm drying chilies, and doing something they wouldn't have done in the 16th- 19th centuries: Freezing some veggies in the little freezer at the top of my fridge. But the idea of having all this come to fruition: having the food prepared and the fibers ready to work, having this deep breath that's both the deep breath after a hard work and a deep sigh of satisfaction... that feeling of taking something in to the very core of one's being... well, I've experienced that these last couple days.
Yeah, it would have been great to have some photos of the grape stomping. But somehow that seems all so shallow and unimportant now, at that point in the day where the freezing is done and I'm about to string my chili ristra before settling down this afternoon to spin wool over a hot cup of tea and some social time with my daughter.