Friday, 2 September 2016
Walking Among The Fields
There was a cool wind blowing when the dogs and I went across the fields this morning. All week we've been up and out early to beat the heat, but this morning the heat had gone and the wind was agitated in its place, whispering of a change in the weather as September ushers itself in.
The pigs had been wallowing, displaying the evidence in the crumbled patchwork of old mud dried on their flanks. Poppy likes to stand on her back legs and watch them. She isn't so keen when they come rattling up to her looking for food and scampers off in search of things less intimidating. I like the pigs: they are friendly, boisterous, bumbling creatures who gaze at you from intelligent eyes, noses working as they take your smell in for analysis.
While the dogs watched the pigs I watched the hedgerows, finding the fruits of Guelder Rose well along now, all red and plump and heavy, hanging low from the bough.
The badgers, who have three front doors along the track between the fields have been making good use of the straw left over from the wheat harvest. Even the most novice of detectives could not fail to notice the golden blades dragged through the hedge and strewn untidily about the holes. There will be some comfy badgers sleeping down there this winter.
Ted considered investigating inside the hole but was fortunately distracted by a small rabbit who inadvisedly poked his head through the hedge at that moment to see what all the fuss was about.
While the dogs took off in pursuit of the rabbit who had a good head start and was in no real danger, I stood by the hedge and watched a flock of starlings murmuring. Fifty or so swung through the sky, moving like a giant wave that rolled first one way then another before falling suddenly to settle along the electricity wires. I could hear them chattering from half a mile away. The swallows are massing in ever-greater numbers too. It won't be long before they leave now, and I will miss them until Spring brings their return.
Down in the fields dissected by the eight hundred year-old hedge, the ditch was white with the feathery baubles of Lesser Water Parsnip. The plant may look dainty but it is poisonous, as so many of the wild Carrot family are.
The dogs, who had acknowledged defeat about the rabbit by then, caught me up and together we crossed the field back up to where the badgers have a latrine beneath the hedge, me enjoying the peace of the morning, them busy exploring the exciting smells left by the wild ones who'd wandered that way in the night...
As we went I noted the striking yellow of fleabane growing in clutches at the base of the hedge; the tall lilac spires of purple loosestrife spearing out of the ditch; the blue of blackberries smudging the hedges; the groink of a raven flying over and behind it the high keening mewl of a buzzard. Hazel nuts opened by squirrels lay on the ground and the dried stalks of hogweed and sorrel stood like desiccated sentries beneath the oak trees.
The sheep, grazing in a field thick with ragwort as we neared the car, thought we might mean food. Poppy, who considers herself a proper sheep dog (even though she only comes up to their knees), was outraged at the very thought...
September in the UK can produce balmy Indian Summers that often give our main summer a run for its money, but today it feels like the sunshine and the warmth of the past month has gone. Oddly, this has not troubled my Common Darter Dragonfly, who has been coming into the garden every day to settle on a bamboo cane for a chat and a sunbathe- I've just seen him whizz past the window. Some wild creatures accept our presence with barely a flicker, and this dragon is one. He lets me get so close I can hear the snap of his jaws as he flicks his head to catch passing insects. He has a handsome auburn tail and fine threads the colour of rubies on his wings. They glow like burnished bronze when the sun touches them. He is perhaps a harbinger for a season typified by reds and yellows and bronzes.
Hope all is well with all of you.