Michaelmas, also known as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels is celebrated on September 29. It is one of the four quarter days of the church year, marking the seasons. The others are Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June), and Christmas (25th December).

St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin as we edge into winter, the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months.

During the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was a great religious feast and many popular traditions grew up around the day, which coincided with the harvest in much of western Europe. In Ireland, finding a ring hidden in a Michaelmas pie meant that one would soon be married. Another old tradition says, “A Tree planted at Michaelmas, will surely not go amiss.”

As one of the quarter days, it was said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid. Since in the old days many debts were paid with a brace of geese, eating goose came to be associated with this day.

It is also a time in the Celtic calendar when families determined what cattle they were going to keep over the winter, and which were to be slaughtered and preserved for food. So today, we celebrate the coming of autumn in this old tradition. Happy Michaelmas!

Quotes about harvest

Nature herself does not distinguish between what seed it receives. It grows whatever seed is planted; this is the way life works. Be mindful of the seeds you plant today, as they will become the crop you harvest.–Mary Morrissey

Inside every seed is the potential for an incredible harvest.–Farrah Gray

The farmer has patience and trusts the process. He just has the faith and deep understanding that through his daily efforts, the harvest will come.And then one day, almost out of nowhere, it does.–Robin Sharma

Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.–Kent Nerburn

Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.–Sharon Kay Penman

The season for enjoying the fullness of life – partaking of the harvest, sharing the harvest with others, and reinvesting and saving portions of the harvest for yet another season of growth.–Denis Waitley

Life is a thing of many stages and moving parts. What we do with ease at one time of life we can hardly manage at another. What we could not fathom doing when we were young, we find great joy in when we are old. Like the seasons through which we move, life itself is a never-ending series of harvests, a different fruit for every time.–Joan D. Chittister

You plant, then you cultivate, and finally you harvest. Plant, cultivate, harvest. In today’s world, everyone wants to go directly from plant to harvest.–Jeff Olson

When so rich a harvest is before us, why do we not gather it? All is in our hands if we will but use it.–Elizabeth Ann Seton

In my belief, a harvest is also a legacy, for very often what you reap is, in the way of small miracles, more than you consciously know you have sown.–Faith Baldwin

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Fall Hat Month

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

So begins the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. It seems like the perfect poem for September’s Fall Hat Month. At least in the northern hemisphere, September is the month to put away the straw hats of summer and pull out the warmer ones for fall and winter. It’s time for crocheted hats, for felt hats, for Stetsons, and other such headgear.

But more than a reminder of the change of season, “Warning” inspired the founding of the Red Hat Society, “the place where there is fun after fifty.” In over 40,000 chapters of the group, women wear purple dresses and red hats to their outings. As someone well over 50, who loves the color purple and loves hats, I celebrate the idea.

In many books, hats play a major role. The earliest I remember is Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina, subtitled A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business. It’s now called a Reading Rainbow book, but I’m old enough to remember hearing it on Captain Kangaroo.

From Dr. Seuss, we have The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, about a boy with problems removing his hat before the king, and of course, Cat in the Hat. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, we meet the Mad Hatter. (Did you know that mercury used in the manufacture of felt hats in the Victorian era caused neurological damage, which is behind the phrase “mad as a hatter”?) What would Sherlock Holmes be without his deerstalker? And of course, in Harry Potter, students’ lives are shaped by which house the sorting hat puts them in.

So dust off your fall hats today, or even buy yourself (or make yourself) a new one and celebrate this great month.

Quotes about hats.

You take the lies out of him, and he’ll shrink to the size of your hat; you take the malice out of him, and he’ll disappear.–Mark Twain

Never try to wear a hat that has more character than you do.–Lance Morrow

Cock your hat – angles are attitudes.–Frank Sinatra

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.–E. B. White

How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.–Philip Treacy

I myself have 12 hats, and each one represents a different personality. Why just be yourself?–Margaret Atwood

I can wear a hat or take it off, but either way it`s a conversation piece.–Hedda Hopper

A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.–P. J. O’Rourke

The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat.–Elizabeth Bishop

I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Her hat is a creation that will never go out of style; it will just look ridiculous year after year.–Fred Allen

I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and give me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a state funeral or something. Someday I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it.–Erma Bombeck

I think that a woman wears so many hats, we have so many aspects to us that we’re not just one thing. We represent so much within us and that kind of comes across for me as a designer through mixing prints and colors.–Rachel Roy

If a woman rebels against high-heeled shoes, she should take care to do it in a very smart hat–George Bernard Shaw

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I thought a lot about what I wanted to do my 100th post on, and decided the season of autumn was appropriate. (I apologize in advance for anyone in the southern hemisphere who is reading this, and moving into spring instead.)

Autumn is an interesting time. For some, it is a wonderful season because it is relief from the heat of summer, and is moving into the crisp coldness of winter. For others, it is bittersweet because it marks the end of the long, warm days of summer, and heralds the time of coats and boots and chilliness that won’t really go away until next spring.

For gardeners, autumn is harvest, when all the hard work of the spring and summer finally pays off with fruit and vegetables. I have been eating tomato sandwiches for days in a row, and we made fresh salsa with the romas. Yum! A promise made in March when I planted the seeds, and now fulfilled.

Autumn is the time of bright colors – the turning of the leaves, the bright red of tomatoes, orange pumpkins, multi-colored gourds, green, then yellow corn, the purples and golds and rusts of mums. There are colors everywhere.

It’s also the season of abundance in other ways, as nature scatters the seeds that will grow next year, whether that’s by wind or the birds or other. My sunflowers have been picked clean by the birds this year. I hope they dropped enough seeds so there is another crop next year.

Finally, for now, it is also the season of pulling back, of getting ready for the darker days to come, getting the garden ready for winter, as I remove the dead flowers and vegetables. Soon I will be moving into my winter mode, getting out the crochet, and doing more inside. But now it’s time to enjoy autumn with its beauty and abundance.


Quotes about autumn

All those golden autumn days the sky was full of wings. Wings beating low over the blue water of Silver Lake, wings beating high in the blue air far above it … bearing them all away to the green fields in the South.–Laura Ingalls Wilder

Autumn begins to decorate the ground with its fragile bits of loosened gold.–Teresita Fernandez

Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.–Faith Baldwin

Autumn is the best season in which to sniff, and to sniff for pleasure, for this is the season of universal pungency.–Bertha Damon

Autumn … makes a double demand. It asks that we prepare for the future – that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go – to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness.–Bonaro W. Overstreet

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.–George Eliot

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.–Edwin Way Teale

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.–L. M. Montgomery

I’ve never known anyone yet who doesn’t suffer a certain restlessness when autumn rolls around… We’re all eight years old again and anything is possible.–Sue Grafton

October is a symphony of permanence and change.–Borono W. Overstreet

October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again.–Hal Borland

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.–Nathaniel Hawthorne

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