It’s a calmer and drier day here at Talking Trees ‘Headquarters’ in rural Shropshire. A calm seems in the air and a fruitful mellowness in our old apple orchard. We know Autumn can be an unpredictable season but at it’s best is a glorious, with somewhat watery sunshine, celebration of seed heads, fungi, turning leaves and late fruits. However today is Michaelmas Day and traditionally the last day to pick blackberries for fear of them being interfered with by ’Himself’ as he landed on a blackberry bush on his expulsion from heaven and either spat, pissed or cursed on them depending on local folklore. An old Irish proverb goes:
“On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on blackberries”.
it is almost certain that this idea of a last day for blackberries refers to what is now known as Old Michaelmas Day on the 10th October as the calendar change interfered with many of nature’s indicators. We have blackberries that still look very edible and will be following the ‘Old Calendar’ and continue making/eating apple and blackberry crumbles.
Michaelmas day is so called because it is St Michael‘s feast day and he is celebrated as a protector from darkness and evil- rather appropriate as we enter the darker months. The Michaelmas daisy is the plant of the moment and is a burst of late colour that fights against the monotone of Winter.
“The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds, Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds. And seems the last of flowers that stood, Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.”
(The Feast of St. Simon and Jude is 28 October)
Giving a Michaelmas daisy is a symbol of saying farewell. Perhaps these beautiful flowers are indeed saying a farewell to the summer and a hello to Autumn. As traditionally it is the beginning of a new term at universities, the courts sit once more, debts were collected, hiring fairs took place it seems that Michaelmas day marked a time of change and new beginnings. This feels positive and exciting as we can go out and look in nature for her Autumn glory before a restful-ness and hopefully quiet of winter.