Harvest over; The scent of retting lingers, Everywhere.
Some weeks ago, a fellow blogger, Mark (*1), challenged his readers to write a haiku about cotton. Like me, Mark follows the seasons in his blog. At that particular time the cotton plant was beginning to open. Of course where I live we don’t grow cotton and so having no experience of that process I wondered if there was something here, in these wetter, cooler lands that could be written about.
What came to mind was flax, the plant from which linen is made, and not so many years ago it played a massive part in the life of this island. Finding out something about it here was easy enough; the website for National Museums NI (*2) has lots of information but I wondered if anyone still grew and produced flax. Eventually I came across a farm in County Tyrone (*3) who’s ethos was to grow and produce flax using traditional methods in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Making contact with the farm, I was able to arrange a visit for my wife and myself on a glorious late September morning. Accompanied by Helen and Charlie we tramped over their fields along with their dogs, and actually pulled some missed stems of flax. We also helped to pick some of the remaining hedgerow blackberries.
How privileged we were, hearing the farm’s story and their plans for a sustainable future. Perhaps next year we will return to see the fields filled with the “wee blue flower”.
Everywhere, Carried on the autumn wind, Golden memories.
(Retting: the process of soaking the flax in water to help soften the stalks so that the flax fibres can be separated from the core and outer casing. The smell is very distinctive).