Harvest Home 2021

Early Autumn is hard work for the farmer, the allotmenteer and the home gardener alike. It’s harvesting time. For the non-professionals there are beans and more beans, courgettes by the millions until one becomes sick and tired of ratatouille, produce to go into the freezer: jams, chutneys, pickles and damson gin to make. It’s hard work time all round, but enjoyable as the fruits of the harvest are sorted and stored for the winter and the harder times ahead. The Harvest Home is a collective sigh of relief at a job well done leading to many a sore head the morning after.

But there is a sadness in the air too, as the plots are cleared the compost bins start to fill up and the ground becomes a little bare unless planted with green manure crops or one of the overwintering spring vegetables. We can plan and re-plan what we would like to do, but in reality we are blithely ignorant of what nature has in store in the future. For the moment we can enjoy our ignorance by studying the plant/seed catalogues and dreaming of next year’s extra special crops for as the saying goes,

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is the present, accept it as a gift”.

But this Autumn there is more uncertainty than usual, the effects of Covid 19 and Brexit (I refuse to “do a rant” about either) are still working their way through the system and there have been warnings of commercial shortages ahead. However, what can be said is that very little can be expected to return to what was “normal” before and we are just going to have to get used to it.

Some students have found on-line learning superior to face to face learning; office workers especially, have discovered how they can successfully perform their jobs in the spare room or the garden shed; online shopping is causing a revolution on the High Street; Zoom has entered the English lexicon and many a meeting has been held with the participants sitting at home in comfortable surroundings (with good biscuits and a cup of coffee/tea) instead of round a board room table with uncomfortable “sit up and beg” chairs with knees bashing the table legs, (this may or may not lead to better decisions being taken).

So Harvest Festival 2021 is going to be a real oddball.  For many of us, besides the happiness of the Harvest Home, there is the sadness of the memories of friends and relations who are no longer with us.  We may not have even been able to attend the funerals in person to close the relationships and that can hurt.  We can but pray and hope that the mystery that is tomorrow will give both us and those around us the chance to re-set our lives from hereon in.