Friday, October 10, 2008

Harvest festival flowers

click photo to enlarge
The Harvest Festival is a tradition that continues in most English primary (age 5-11) schools. It is essentially a church service redrawn for the school setting. In a typical Harvest Festival children present songs, poems, drama, readings and prayers on the theme of giving thanks for the harvest, and also on the associated season of autumn. Many schools ask parents to donate packaged and fresh food that is arranged as a display during the service. This food is then either collected by charities for distribution to those in need, given to elderly people living in the vicinity of the school, or distributed in some other way. It is a moment in the year when pupils, staff and parents pause to give thanks for all that they have, and share some of it with others.

In some ways this is quite anachronistic because the harvest, except for those in rural schools, is now quite a remote experience for most children. Churches carry on the tradition, and every year at this time decorate the nave, chancel, aisles, font and pulpit with flowers, wheat, berries, and collections of food for distribution. It is seen as an essential part of the church's annual cycle of worship and thanksgiving. In these days of failing banks and faltering economies brought on by "I want more" and "I want it now" attitudes, the theme of gratitude for what we have that pervades the Harvest Festival is a refreshing corrective to this modern mindset.

I noticed this vase of flowers and scattered rose hips on a stone bench in the porch of St Peter & St Paul, Osbournby, Lincolnshire, as I entered the church. The October sun was piercing the interior through the doorway and side windows, the shafts of light illuminating a dark corner, that the golden sunflowers and blue vase made even brighter. Someone had created this colourful arrangement as their contribution to the harvest decoration of the church, and it made a fine opening statement for the display that was inside.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 21mm (42mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On