While I was reading student papers this morning, a flash of orange caught my eye: the first monarch butterfly of fall.
The maps say I live in Ventura on the edge of Prince Barranca on the bluff above where it dips down to join San Jon Barranca and then the Pacific Ocean.
But the Chumash lived here before I did. For the Chumash, as for me, the return of the monarchs was also a sign of the equinox–of the days getting shorter and the nights longer, and for the Chumash, the time for the Harvest Festival to give thanks to Hutash.
For the Chumash, this is also the start of the new year.
With the arrival of the San Buenaventura Mission, the Festival for Hutash became San Miguel Days as San Miguel Day is in late September. As Ventura became more secular, the celebration of harvest took place in late…