11. Jan, 2015

Plough Monday

Today we have a guest writer, Karen Bown. Although originally from the highlands of North Wales, Karen spends as much time as possible in Athens, with her family.

"It'll soon be Plough Monday," said my great granny Towers, many moons ago. ‘I had no idea what she was talking about.

      It was Christmas and we were sitting besides the old range, watching the kettle boil above the fire. Granny was peeling the potatoes for the evening meal.

      I stared into the flames and wondered what Granny meant by Plough Monday and before I could say anything, she asked me to run to the milking parlour and tell grandpa that the tea would soon be brewed. Jumping down from the large farmhouse chair, I ran to find my boots.

      ‘Don’t forget your hat and coat,’ shouted granny Towers, as I stretched up towards the door latch.   A gust of wind swept across the yard causing me to walk sideways, like a crab.  All the while, I shouted to Grandpa. 

       I found him in the parlour. ‘What is it my pet?’ he called.

      ‘Granny said the tea’s brewed!’ I said breathlessly.

      ‘Aye, that I will,’ he said smiling, ‘but I just need to finish milking Gertie!’  

      I smiled back and sniffed the cold air that smelt of cow and straw.

      ‘Run back to the fire,’ said grandpa, ‘I'll  be done in a wee while but mind crossing that yard in the wind, it be a strong one! I fear there'll be some snow on the tarns tonight.’

     Hurrying back inside I found granny, sitting at the kitchen table, cutting and buttering the bread with the homemade butter she had made, probably from Gertie's milk. It wasn’t long after, the clunk of the latch sounded and grandpa appeared.

    ‘Grandpa,’ I said, ‘come and sit in your chair, I've been keeping it warm till you get in.’

    As my legs weren't quite long enough to touch the floor, grandpa scooped me up into his arms. I could feel the cold on him from outside along with the smell of cow and straw. And he sat for a moment by the fire to warm himself.

    ‘That'll get you warm Grandpa,’ I said, as granny gave him a crust of bread and a steaming mug of tea.

    ‘ Aye,’  he said, ‘and I’ll eat all the crust.’

    ‘Is it true, that if you eat all the crust your hair will turn curly?’ I said, sitting on the floor beside his chair.

   ‘Well, you never can tell,’ he said. ‘But one shouldn’t waste food!’

  After tea I asked Grandpa, what Plough Monday was.

 ‘Well pet,’ he replied, laying his head back in his chair, ‘after the Christmas festivities, all of us farmers have to get back to the land and the animals. They still need feeding after all and they can't go hungry. Traditionally, the farm hands went back to work on the first Monday after Epiphany.’

     ‘What's efipany, grandpa?’ I asked.

     ‘They called it Epiphany a long time ago, after the first sighting of baby Jesus.’

     I looked up to him a bit puzzled and said, ‘but I saw baby Jesus a few days ago when we went to church. Grandpa chuckled and gave me big fat cuddle.

I think Plough Monday has moved to the weekend these days as people are working, but I don't think it's well known, if at all celebrated?