The light changed on Lammastide morning this year. I woke up and the dawn light was more golden, less clear, and coming into the bedroom from a different angle. High Summer was gone, right on schedule.
When I was a little kid, living in New Hampshire, this shift of the season’s light was the first one I remember. Maybe it was because it always occurred within a few days of my birthday and the acquisition of a new lunchbox and a fall sweater, but it was sad sight. I’d wake up one morning and all of the humidity we’d been living with for months would be blown away, leaving the sky clear, clear, bright blue. Just lovely. Perfect for showing off the changing maple leaves in a few weeks and eating Macintosh apples—but, also, dang. School’s going to start soon. Back inside. As I grew older, it was also a signal to travel, leave town, head for the mountains. Trails empty out the week after school starts, but the days are perfect for walking and the nights tolerable for sleeping without long underwear and a wooly hat.
Here in Oregon, the Lammastide light change is different. It comes, not from a change in weather, but from the field burning and dust stirred up from the grain harvest. It’s a warmer, deeper sunlight and you may see columns of smoke rising on the still air from far away. The result, however, is the same. School’s going to start. Head for the hills one more time. The morning I woke to the change in light, I rode out to Sunbow. We spent several hours pulling pigweed and nightshades from a tangle of winter squash vines, balancing on one foot, hopping over vines that could not be redirected out of the pathways. When we finished, Harry nodded. “Well, that’s it on weeding,” he said. “Let’s shell some dried fava beans.” And that was it. The season shifted from growth to harvest.