Another week passed. The oat-harvest began, and all the men were a-field under a monochromatic Lammas sky, amid the trembling air and short shadows of noon. Indoors nothing was to be heard save the droning of blue-bottle flies; out-of-doors the whetting of scythes and the hiss of tressy oat-ears rubbing together as their perpendicular stalks of amber-yellow fell heavily to each swath. Every drop of moisture not in the men’s bottles and flagons in the form of cider was raining as perspiration from their foreheads and cheeks. Drought was everywhere else.
—Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd, Chapter XXXIII
Lammas is August 1st, the festival of the first harvest of wheat. I love how Hardy whips up some synesthesia in only a couple lines: it’s not “the hiss of tressy oat-ears” that I hear but the hay fields behind my grandparents’ old house in Maine that I see.
Photo is from the Library of Congress collection; I found it on flickr.