We are coming to the end of Summer. Strange isn’t it, to think of something cyclic as having an end, nor is this the end, even if we could think of it linearly. Perhaps it would have been better to say – Summer is winding down.
It isn’t Autumn yet though. I find Autumn relaxing, we walk our highways and byways through a palpable aura of a job well done – a feeling of the table cleared, the dishes washed, and the kettle on.
But we’re not up to that point yet, there’s still plenty to be done. The Hawthorn berries are starting to turn red, and the Rose Baywillow Herb pea pods are splitting, sending blasts of filigree-fine, seed-carrying fluff off with the wind, while Dandelions and Thistles are doing their best to keep up. Blackberries are ripening in the hedgerows and the Hazel nuts are ready to drop off their bushes. Busy, busy, busy.
The Knapweed is a late summer visitor – I think he’s trying to avoid the crowds the school holidays always bring. Still, at a time when most plants are too involved with their seeds, berries or nuts to be bothered with pollen – I’m sure the bees are glad to see him.
When we come out of the gate, if we turn left we go down the hill and over the beck – along the road that takes us to the next village about half a mile away. Once there, we are faced with a tee junction. We normally turn round, at this point.
Just before the tee junction the road passes through a narrow gap between ancient stone walls. At one time these narrows formed a toll gate, but the old-time need to manage the passage of man and animal does not fit well into modern day traffic patterns.
Just there, where the road is at its narrowest, a clump of Greater Celandine clung tenaciously to the slender verge. Celandine gets its name from the Latin for a swallow – it was believed that the flower bloomed when the swallows arrived in spring, and stayed in flower until they left again at the end of summer.
In a midsummer clear up the Greater Celandine bushes were cut away completely, and I was left hoping that the swallows had some form of backup calendar. Today, on our way through the narrow gap – I found a few straggling plants who had fought back and were even in bloom. I was quite awed by their strong sense of duty – I hope the swallows appreciated it, too.
– August 4th is the birthday of Sir Harry Lauder, his one hundred and forty seventh birthday, in fact. Worryingly, I can remember him. This doesn’t seem possible. Unless you are young enough to think that singers have always been able to record their songs – even if only on LPs or heaven forbid, on 78s. But, that I can remember hearing songs, on the radio, sung by a man who was born 147 years ago gives me a real pause for thought.
Sir Harry wrote most of his own songs, and one of his most popular, sung in his Scottish accent – suitably toned down until even the English could understand the words – was, I Love A Lassie. I mention it here because, in amongst the song’s various, complimentary and complementary, descriptive phrases, he tells us that his lady-love is none other than ‘Mary, my Scots bluebell.’
The spring flower we call the bluebell in England is called the wild hyacinth in Scotland, and the, much more delicate, late summer flower we call the harebell in England is called the Scots bluebell north of the border.
So, if your name is Mary, or you know anyone called Mary – today’s picture is not harebells – but Scots bluebells. Happy Birthday Sir Harry!
Our cows turn up towards the middle of May. They all look very young when they arrive and in many ways are like a litter of puppies, they romp around and indulge in all sorts of frivolity, with no thought for protocol or procedure. During the year, they grow up right before our eyes, you might say, and currently they are going through their rebellious teenage period.
Yesterday, when we reached the bridge over the beck, I, as usual, crouched down to look upstream through the branches of the hawthorn bushes that crowd in along the bank (they don’t want to miss any of the scandal that the beck babbles as it passes by), there, to my surprise, I spied two of our cows nonchalantly paddling in the water. Now, our landlady has thoughtfully provided a fence to protect the occupants of the field from the temptations that marshy ground and sparkling water offer those of youthful and carefree inclination. The cows had obviously pushed the fence down somewhere – cows use their bulk to do this at every available opportunity.
Unfortunately, the other side of the beck, although quite steep, gives unlimited access to the embankment and the railway line, so I thought it best – in the interests of health and safety – to phone the farmer who rents the field and pass the above information on to him.
Naturally, by the time he arrived with his fence fixing kit, all the cows were back within their defined safe area and were grazing innocently – as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.