Consitor, Terra Monticolarum – There was a sense of great joy in the air in the small town of Consitor, in western Terra Monticolarum, as children ran around and parents busied themselves with baked goods and great big dishes of stews or salads. Harvest Day, a public holiday celebrated in most of the states of Sanctaria, marked the end of the summer, but more notably the beginning of the economically and socially important harvest season, and is a day that rural communities are celebrated for their contributions to Sanctarian life.
Many communities in the more rural states of Terra Monticularum and Novum Aeternum use Harvest Day as an excuse to have a big party, where everyone is invited. Streets are lined with stalls where local shops or small business owners sell their, often homemade, wares, and acres of fields are taken up with carnival rides, live music, and food trucks selling delicacies from across the nation, and even further afield. Local politicians use the opportunity to glad-hand, and teenagers in their first bands are getting the chance to show off their skills. Harvest Day is very keenly a celebration not just of the work of agricultural workers, but also a celebration of community spirit and togetherness that many say isn’t there in big cities and urban metropolises.
Susanne Harlock, a resident of Consitor, is a farmer’s wife, and has lived in the area her entire life. Her eldest daughter is going to start college in the next few weeks, and this will be the last time the entire family is together before Christmas. Her daughter will be the first person in her family to attend college. “My dad worked on his farm all his life, and my husband worked on his dad’s farm all his life, and now owns that farm. We never needed to go to college. I helped my dad on the farm until I married my husband. The farm life is all I know, but it’s getting tougher, especially for the young people”, she tells us. “I’m glad my daughter is going off and getting an education for herself. She has brains and is so creative, she’s going to study Multimedia Journalism!” It’s clear from Harlock’s wide smile that the big departure from farming doesn’t matter to her. Family is everything in these communities, and her approach is when the family is happy, life is good.
Consitor town itself has a population of only about 400 people, but about 1,000 more live in the miles of countryside surrounding it, all farmers or loggers. The local MP, an NSP representative, won this district handily in the race for his canton, but politics doesn’t seem to be an overriding aspect of life here. “We get up, we work hard, and on high days and holidays like this, we celebrate”, Samson Jones, a local bar owner explains. “We talk about the price of grain, how much a calf is going for at mart – these are the things that matter to us.” A few folks have complained about the Green Party being in government, and that some of their environmental policies would have an adverse effect on farming life in these rural communities, but generally people shy away from conflict and divisive talk. They argue about the size of gourds instead.
While there doesn’t seem to be an agenda of sorts here in Consitor, bands come and go from the main stage in the town square, at about 2pm, almost the entire town seemed to shift, entirely of their own accord, and move about 2 miles out of the city – some by foot, many by tractor or car – to a massive open air cattle mart. In Consitor, like many rural towns across the country, people use the Harvest Day public holiday as an opportunity to hold livestock auctions. The sweet smells of pumpkin pies and apple cider were replaced instead with the more earthy tones of cow manure and tractor diesel fumes. But the atmosphere of joviality was no less dimmed. A local priest kicked off proceedings with a short Mass, about 15 minutes, before telling attendents there was a “wonderfully fine heifer” he had his eyes on, to much laughter. The interjection of the day with a moment for religion didn’t seem out of place here, like it might have done if a priest tried to say a prayer at a concert in Corpus, for example.
One thing that did stand out what the age profile; Harvest Day attracted a lot more younger people than many would expect. In fact one, Helen Joust a 28-year-old hairdresser now living in Cristi, said she came back to Consitor especially for Harvest Day. “It’s great that it’s a public holiday because it means folk that moved away for jobs or for college or what-have-you can come back to their hometown and hang out with friends and family. We don’t get the opportunity often, and this year it’s on a Friday which is even better – long weekend!”, she added with a big grin.
As the sun set, the celebrations didn’t seem to be winding up. People wound their way back to the main square in the town with more bands playing, the food trucks starting up again, and fairy lights and lanterns illuminating the sky. Though in the darkness, you could seem some people say their goodbyes and make their way to their cars – a lot of these folks would be up early tomorrow to start their typical farming day. Very rarely do the seasons and the weather acknowledge public holidays.
PETER SNOW, Features Correspondent