It’s an early harvest this year, a few days earlier than it normally is, but nothing outside the realms of possibility. And it’s thought to be a good harvest, too, although we won’t really know until next January the 10th, when the seeds will have matured in the dark. Last year’s harvest was apparently excellent, and was awarded the vintage ‘superbrilliant’ by Grandmaster Sun. As a result, much of today’s harvest was planted earlier this year from last year’s crop, rather than that of previous years from the Lucent Bank, where examples from every harvest since 1976 are stored.
The growing tower is visible for some distance around, it being the highest building in the area. It is an old factory in Sleade Yard that used to make rope, an odd shaped building; long and thin with sixteen floors and large, long windows. It was built at a time when land was very expensive in Buentoille, and the rope company had limited start-up capital so they built it a little longer than their ropes were. The design also makes it ideal for growing plants in, as it lets in plenty of natural light at all angles.
Since the Most Holy Church of the Magnificent Sunflower (MHCMS) moved in to this ‘tower’, the windows on all the floors (except for the ground floor which is primarily administrative, and the top floor which has been converted into the Grandmaster’s home) have been removed, so as to let in the ultraviolet light (which is at least partially blocked by glass) that is thought to have a fundamental role in developing the hallucinogenic compounds within the seeds. According to the Church, the lack of windows is to allow the Heliophenes, the invisible, or perhaps trans-dimensional beings which MHCMS members worship, easier access to the building.
Access to the building is tightly controlled, but you can usually see the worshippers bustling around in the tower from below. There is a walled courtyard on one side of the building, where a winch-and-pulley system drops off black sacks of the newly harvested seeds. Netting over the windows prevents birds stealing the harvest. During the growing season just gone the sound of bees can be heard for some time whilst approaching the tower, almost as loudly as it can at the Buzzing Gardens located some way down the road.
Before the harvest begins today, the MHCMS acolytes must submit to several trials of purity both physical and spiritual. They must wash themselves thoroughly and jump over a fire, and in addition they must take a high dose of the unheated seed oil, the most potent way to consume the hallucinogenic compounds within the seeds, and report what they see to Grandmaster Sun. In the weeks before the harvest festival, before the plants grow brown and shrivelled, before they lower their heads away from the Heliophenes from which they allegedly gain their sustenance, the acolytes will sit amongst the flowers after taking a potent dose of oil. Only those to whom the heads turn will be allowed to participate in the harvest. Apparently this is a sign that the individual has a guardian Heliophene with them.
Nobody quite knows what particular rituals or methods are carried out at the point of harvest, as the windows of the growing tower are first all blocked out. There could be artificial sources of light within, although cryptic statements from an ex-member seem to suggest that the harvest is performed in pitch blackness by hallucinating acolytes who are capable of seeing by the glowing light of their guardian Heliophenes. Quite why the seeds require darkness from their point of detachment until January 10th in order to ‘mature’ is still something of a mystery, about which no members or ex-members have ever spoken publicly.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of the Tied Tongue
- The Festival of the Extremely Energetic Monk
- Stationary Theft Day