So summer is over and it’s back to school. Many of us grandparents have been helping out with childcare in the long summer holidays and while I love having the grandkids it is very tiring, so I can now heave a small sigh of relief and get back into my own routine.
The whole back to school scenario has taken on the importance of a ritual with the buying of new shoes and uniform as well as lunch boxes, school bags and stationery. I wonder what the financial value of this spending spree is to the national economy.
So who is watching the Great British Bake Off? More of us it seems than any other television programme. What is it about the spectacle of anxious men and women sweating in a tent and staring at buns in an oven that gets us, the viewers, so enthralled?
As a child, I used to watch my mother baking but mostly for the delight of being able to ‘lick the bowl’ afterwards. Apart from the poor distressed competitors we are entertained by an elderly lady, who is almost as revered as the Queen, a middle-aged, rude, bearded baker and two comediennes who survive on tasting bits of baked goods and dreadful puns. And they all wear jeans! Why is the BBC bothering to spend £10m on a lavish costume drama, War and Peace, which will probably not lure in half the viewing figures?
As well as a new school term, September brings the other autumn ritual of celebrating the harvest safely gathered in. All over the country towns and villages will be carrying out church services and harvest suppers in what are often outmoded observances of the gathering of the crops.
My father was a farmer and it was an important part of our lives when he finally put the combine away and announced that it was over for another year. We all went to church which was decorated with sheaves and a harvest loaf and sang ‘We plough the fields and scatter”.
I was talking to a lady yesterday who was telling me how her village parades food through the streets which culminates in a Harvest Home. Does your community have its own rituals and festivals? Nowadays when we are able to buy whatever food we want whether it is in season or not from a big supermarket is the ritual still necessary?
There is much to celebrate at this time of the year with the beauty of the changing trees and the gradual winding down of our lives. While we often don’t realise it our hormones are getting our bodies ready for the longer nights. The Autumn Equinox on 23rd September is often a time for introspection and balance.
It is also a time for making preserves and chutneys using the glut of summer produce. Perhaps the BBC should be working on a new programme – “The Great British Pickle Off”.