Early August sees the start of Lughnasa, the late summer festival celebrating the ripening of berries and nuts in the forest and the first harvest in the fields.
Lughnasa is named after the Irish hero, Lugh, who many think of as a sun god. In later times, Lughnasa was named Lammas (‘loaf-mass’) in reference to the beginning of harvest.
In farmlands all over Europe, it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived amongst the crop, and so was made homeless by the harvest. It was the custom to fashion the last sheaf of wheat into a corn ‘dolly’, so that the spirit of the corn could spend the winter in this home, until the ‘dolly’ was ploughed back into the land in the new season.
In forest glades and edge-lands, wild grass, rather than cultivated grain, is in seed, and can be used to make a simple ‘dolly’. Here, in this extract from The Children’s Forest, we show you how to make your own Plaited Grass Dolly:
Spring sees the start of nesting season for birds – both domestic, with chickens going broody, and wild birds who visit our gardens and parks.
Although blackbirds are easy to spot in our gardens in Autumn, when they come in search of berries and windfall fruit, if you’re lucky you might see them now gathering nesting materials, preparing to brood and hatch some chicks as the weather warms.
Blackbird chicks usually hatch after 13-14 days and are fed on earthworms when available in our gardens, and on caterpillars when they are raised in woodlands. Only the female blackbird broods the eggs, but both parents feed the chicks.
For more information on seasonal wildlife, and stories, songs and crafts that celebrate each season see The Children’s Forest by Dawn Casey, Anna Richardson and Helen d’Ascoli. Listen to Anna Richardson’s recording of the spring songs from The Children’s Forest on the Red Squirrel Resources YouTube channel.
For many of us, Christmas will be quieter than usual this year, with fewer friends and family members around us. But there is still plenty we can do to embrace this atmospheric time of year and plenty of fun to be had.
Short days bring cosy nights, which are perfect for storytelling. For seasonal stories, Advent and Christmas Stories includes a treasury of verses, stories and songs.
Interested in telling nature stories? ThenThe Natural Storytellerhas stories for telling orally. Using the story maps, you can easily tell the stories without reading and become a family storyteller.
Books such asThe Children’s Forest offer stories and songs, wild food, recipes, crafts and celebrations for all the year round. Families can enjoy these, with seasonal things to look out for while out walking.
If you have ever wanted to try a new craft but never seem to find the time, now is your moment. Crafting is a great way to either spend time with family or to lose yourself in to counter feelings of anxiety or loneliness.
As we spend more time at home again, make the most of chilly days and early evenings by taking up a new craft project.
Darn it! As discussed in a recent article by Rosanna Dodds, visible mending is about more than thrift – it is a process by which we can save favourite garments and make them unique to us. It is also a craft that can fit into the time you have available. As Hikaru Noguchi, author of Darning: Repair, Make, Mend says,
“Most projects are finished within a few minutes to an hour. There’s no need to take out a sewing machine; the tools are as simple as a darning mushroom, needle and scissors. You can darn just as quickly as sewing on a button. If you’re set on darning a larger area, you can continue to enjoy the pleasures of sewing and working methodically, giving you a great sense of satisfaction in a job well done.”
Whether you are new to darning, or already an enthusiast, join us for a new season of Meet Make Mend with Katy Bevan and Kath Child from Atelier Stroud. The mending and darning circle meets on the first Wednesday of each month, starting on Wednesday 4th November at 7 p.m. Register here to join us online.
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