A Flame


Well, it’s happened. We knew it would, sooner or later, and in our case it has turned out to be sooner. As The Dog and I set off this morning the sun was still shinning and the clouds were scurrying about, measuring up the blue bits to make sure there would be enough grey bits to give a nice even cover later in the day. We turned left to go down to the beck. The cows on the corner were all lying down near the gate. I couldn’t remember if this meant that it was going to rain or if they had been up late last night. We stopped to ask, but the one next to the gate couldn’t remember if they had to stand up or lie down for rain, so we went on.

It was then that we saw the devastation. Well actually, it looked very nice and tidy. The man with the machine has been round and the verge and hedge are looking trim and neat – and completely stripped of berries. So, no Hawthorn Berry Jelly from this hedge then – and we were supposed to wait until after the first frost before we picked them. I wonder if the Neanderthals had this problem.

The other side of the road, with its bank of Rose Baywillow Herb was untouched. You know, I had always thought it acquired the name of Fireweed from its habit of colonising burnt ground.

But just look at these leaves. The bank of purple flowers we admired in the summer is now a bank of flame.

The End is Nigh

Rose Baywillow Herb Seeds
Rose Baywillow Herb Seeds

I woke up this morning and looked out on, what has become, a pretty normal scene. In the distance, at about where it would be nice to see the sun shining on the slopes of the Cumbrian mountains, there was a vague grey wall. Here and there the occasional tree faded in and out of view. To say I was tempted to lie straight down and pull up the duvet, is only to tell you the obvious, but it wasn’t to be so. The Dog awaited, impatiently, her opportunity to check all the local canine points of reference – and it’s hard to get any sleep with a dog’s paws dug into parts of your anatomy and a wet nose stuck into any available eye or ear.

By the time I reached the necessary state of readiness, the view through the window had changed, the mountains had thrown off their blankets and were prepared to take on the day. There was quite a wind and the greyness overhead was moving along at a good pace.

Now, a couple of days ago, I took some pictures of the Rose Bay Willow Herb and they were covered in a fine fluff, I could say a fine thistledown, but I don’t want any thistles who read this to take umbrage. The picture we have today is one flower in a vast fluffy, pinky-purple bank of those Rose Bay Willow Herbs, over all of which the white, downy seeds were poised, sitting on the branch outside the nest, chirping excitedly to each other.

Today, the roadside verge is bare – the birds have flown.