conker

Michaelmas Day

Today is Michaelmas Day, which is one of the quarter days that feature on the calendar close to the equinox or solstice, the others being Lady Day on 25th March, Midsummer Day on 24th June and Christmas Day.

 

Christmas tree planting

 

Historically,  Michaelmas marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the new season. Nowadays, harvest is long finished and the ground already prepared for sowing. Indeed, some crops will already have been sown, though it’s so dry here that we’re waiting to drill our wheat. Instead, Bill and Jack have been planting Christmas trees this Michaelmas Day to replace the trees planted in the spring that didn’t survive the prolonged dry spell that we had this summer.

 

sale particulars

 

We still pay farm rents on Lady Day and Michaelmas Day, though thankfully electronic transfer is a lot easier than going cap in hand to the landlord’s agent with a bag full of money and I like the continuing traditions linked to these dates. Looking back at the Sale Particulars for the farm when it was sold in 1895, it’s interesting to see that the sale was to be completed on 29th September. Even more interesting, at the art exhibition in The Barley Barn at the weekend, I was introduced to a 99 year-old lady who lived in our house as a girl and it was her father who bought the farm back in 1895. I wonder if this day 121 years ago, he walked down the same track that I walk every day to survey his new farm.

 

hawthorn berries

A fortnight ago, it still felt like summer but now autumn seems to be creeping in. Conkers litter the ground under the horse chestnut trees, hawthorn berries make a splash of scarlet and the evenings are drawing in. Last night I dithered about whether to light the fire as it was much cooler but when it was pointed out that I was still in my shirt sleeves, I realised that I just needed to put on a sweater. I keep reading that we should be embracing Danish hygge and lighting candles around the fire, but I’m happy to keep hold of summer for as long as possible.

Somehow, that first lighting of the fire acknowledges that summer really has petered out and that every evening the shutters will be closed and the fire lit as the days get shorter and colder.

28 thoughts on “Michaelmas Day

  1. anna warren portfolio says:

    Something I remember very fondly as a child was the Harvest Festival in the church, with a mass of fruit and vegetables spread around the church – it always smelt so good! It’s probably only in the country that the old quarter days are still remembered. I’m visiting Scotland at the moment and had hoped for a traditional Autumn, but it looks as though the unseasonal mildness is set to continue – not that I am complaining, it makes it easier to get about! I love your conker photo by the way!

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  2. jmcheney says:

    I have had Michaelmas daisies in other gardens & other years. I don’t have any now & haven’t since I’ve had this garden (10 yrs.), but your Michaelmas blog has reminded me to plant some. They would be blooming today, Sept. 29. if I had remembered to plant them.

    I love your farm sale poster & that you met the 99 yr. old lady who had lived there in her girlhood.
    I met the 100 yr.! old lady who had been a girl in my North Carolina, USA, house & she told me about the long gone plum tree in the plum tree she & her friends had climbed & its delicious plums they had eaten. It was a precious connection to the dear old place.

    We will have sweater & blanket weather here too tonight in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Judith

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      I think it’s fun to meet people who were children in our houses because they know all the secret places too. It was a shame my children weren’t there to speak with our visitor as I think they would have some wonderful stories to compare.

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      We met her sister a few years ago and showed her around the house. In every room she clapped her hands together and exclaimed “You’ve got a radiator in here” It’s still not a warm house but the cold must have been a constant throughout her childhood.

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  3. arlingwoman says:

    I’m fascinated by the bill of sale and that you met someone who lived there in the early part of the last century. I hope you had a good chat with her! I like the chestnut photo!

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      We had a very good chat 🙂 She was telling us how, as children, they used to dance through the gap between a tree and the pond. The tree is now considerably larger and is almost in the pond. A reminder of how things change, even though at first glance they appear to have stayed the same.

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  4. Glenda says:

    Hi Anne, It is still cold here. Unusual for us, it has been a long winter. I am not complaining but even I could do with a bit of sunshine.

    This is a lovely post Anne, it reminds us of the seasons, both in the weather and in our lives. I am afraid I wouldn’t know one day from another. Maybe because Australia is such a new country we don’t hold onto these traditions as much.

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  5. fergie51 says:

    What a lovely post. I love that poster/advert, the language was so descriptive and ‘pretty’ back then, much nicer than today’s prose. I love hearing from people who know some history about our place, we have heard many interesting stories about medical conditions that were treated here. How lovely to meet that lady who I’m sure loved hearing your tales as much as you hers.

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  6. Jane says:

    How wonderful to have that history of your ‘capital residence’! I know graphic designers who would have conniptions over the varying use of typefaces and sizes in that marvellous notice, but it’s so charming.

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  7. Sam says:

    I love the wording on the bill of sale (“the upset price”) and the look of it. This is a lovely description of summer falling into autumn, Anne. I’ve been wearing my cosy sheepskin slippers this week; a definite sign that autumn is here 🙂

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  8. thelandroverownerswife says:

    Ohhh it’s so good to find out the history of the home that you live in. Our cottage is around 170 yrs old which is relatively young in historical terms but we still feel like temporary custodians of a slice of village history 😀

    Your conker picture made me smile. The Mudlets and I went on a conker hunt about an hour ago, to refresh last years conkers which have been sitting quietly in a corner of each room keeping the spiders at bay. They also collected an impressive haul of pine cones for drying, painting, gluing, glitter dipping and adorning with ribbon for December 😉😀

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      Somebody told me that if you keep the spiders away then you get overrun with daddy-long-legs. Not sure if that’s true but as we seem to have plenty of both at the moment, maybe I should bring some conkers inside. The conkers have all fallen at once this year so I shall have to be quick. Must find some pine cones too – thanks for the reminder.

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  9. Jane @ Shady Baker says:

    Hello Anne, I hope those freshly planted trees survive! The for-sale sign is incredible, they certainly don’t word real estate signs like that these days. It sounds very appealing, suitable and well arranged! I always love your updates.

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