Sunday, 31 July 2011

An early Autumn?







I can' help feeling that we are in for an early Autumn this year. The signs are all around up here in North Yorkshire and, let's face it, it has been an odd kind of year seasons-wise, with that very dry early Spring and very chilly early Summer.

The sides of the lane are full of grass seeds and dead and dying foliage. All the wild flowers are finished - only the heather still shows purple on the moor in the distance (and that is an Autumn touch).

But there were more signs yesterday evening when the farmer and I went round the fields for a walk with Tess and our sheepdog, Tip. There were harebells everywhere in the hedge bottoms - the blue bells of Scotland - those delicate purply/blue flowers which are so clear and pretty.

In the hedgerow the hawthorn berries are already turning orange and will no doubt be red in a short time. The berries on our rowan tree just outside the kitchen window are already orange and the blackbirds - and today a pair of bullfinches too - are gobbling them down like there is no tomorrow. What a pity that birds do not have the sense to leave the berries on the trees until there is nothing else to eat. I noticed it last early winter with the fieldfares, who stripped the hawthorn berries so early that later in the winter when there was nothing else, they were desperate for food. And if they drop a berry on the floor they don't fly down and eat it. Still I suppose it is left there and food for the field and harvest mice, so nothing is wasted. Also, because there has been hot sun for a week and no rain, the ground is very hard and unyielding, therefore it is hard to get at the worms.

This no doubt accounts for the fact that we saw a young hedgehog out in the field. It is rare to see them out in the daylight, but this one was eating something in the middle of the pasture. And when we arrived home and went into the shed to feed the farm cats, what should be eating the cat biscuits but another young hedgehog. He kept his beady eye on me as I took the photograph, but had no intention of moving away. I hope he gets enough meat on him before it is time to hibernate, so that he snuggles down in our hay for the winter and survives. From today we intend to put more cat food out, so that hedgehogs can help themselves any time they want. They are really the gardener's friend as their favourite food is slugs and we have plenty of those about.

The sloes on the blackthorn are already filling out and in some places beginning to turn black - at least a month early. It will be sloe gin time again before we know where we are.

19 comments:

Golden West said...

I have the same feeling here for an early autumn, Weaver. The ginkgo tree leaves have an edge of gold already and some daffodil bulbs I inadvertently dug up yesterday had put out strong white roots...

Thomas the cat lives across the street. The neighbors have quite a menagerie - numerous cats and dogs. We figure he comes here for undivided attention and no competition for food. He's been stopping by almost daily for 7 years now and has us well trained!

Bonnie said...

Wish that were true for North America - heat is expected to continue here for a while.

Heather said...

I fear you may be right Pat. This year's seems to have been the summer that never was, apart from a few odd days of lovely warm weather. I have noticed hawthorn berries turning colour and the hedgerows full of dead seedheads. It was a treat to see those harebells. I remember them from my childhood in the Chilterns, along with bee orchids, wild thyme and tiny wild strawberries. I wonder what sort of winter we will get this time - hopefully a gentle autumn will arrive first.

ArtPropelled said...

We've had the coldest winter in decades so be prepared. How wonderful to have hedgehogs and bluebells in your garden!

Pondside said...

We've just started to get summer weather here - highs of 23 have us all putting on shorts and sunhats - and I'm not ready to think of fall yet!

Cynthia Monica said...

I so enjoyed your description of all the bursting nature that indicates an early autumn! But, most of all I loved hearing about the hedgehogs...they are so adorable! Wish we had them here in Oregon, as we have an abundance of slugs!

angryparsnip said...

I am so envious of you, Hedgehogs !

I have never seen one and I always hoped to see one on my trips to the UK but sadly never did.
When I was working at the card companies I tried slipping them in my art but they usually didn't lend themselves to the style needed.

Love the fact they hibernate in you hay... ack ! so cute ! do you have to be care not to step on sleeping Hedgehogs ?

cheers, parsnip

Siddis back home said...

Were did the summer g go this year?? It has been a cold one so far, and autumn is just around the corner...
Have a nice week!

Crafty Green Poet said...

yes it seems that way here too, much though I love autumn I'm not ready for it to arrive yet...

Bovey Belle said...

I agree with you. There is a certain "feel" about Autumn - similar to the "feel" you get in late Winter when Spring thinks about arriving. I can best describe it for Autumn as a sort of "standing still day". This year and last, I have felt this in late July. The first dry twisted leaves are falling from some shrubby trees already . . .

Nora said...

In the Netherlands, we're finally expecting nice weather starting tomorrow after a bleak summer. There's hope yet for a fine August. I'm not ready for Fall yet.

ChrisJ said...

A wonderful description of the beginning of autumn. But like some of your other friends I'm not ready for autumn yet. We've had a slow start here along the coast. Lots of coastal gloom. Today it is muggy but at least the sun is out. Some of our hottest weather comes in August and September.

Dartford Warbler said...

I`m not ready for autumn either, but the Rowan berries are bright orange now and some trees are beginning to change colour. It does feel more like the end of August than the end of July. A strange year.....

I am envious of your hedgehogs. We have not seen one here for years.

Chris said...

I always love your photos. I hope summer stays in New York for as long as possible!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for joining in. Tody here is very humid with sun one minute and a heavy shower the next. Time will tell what this week's weather will bring.

We all seem to be agreed in the UK that autumn is going to be early.

Dave King said...

I'm sure that correct: the horse chestnuts are changing here - very early for us - and there are other signs that you mention.

acornmoon said...

I do hope that you are wrong about Autumn, we will feel very cheated out of summer.

Re your last post, I was doing a bit of weeding yesterday and came upon what I thought was a pile of moss and grass cuttings only to find that it was a bumble bee nest. I tried to repair the damage I made but hope that the bees will be able to make things good. Now I am having to keep the dog away.

Reader Wil said...

Beautiful pictures for an early autumn. We are also in for autumn, the signs are there.
Thanks for your comment. Yes, I know that James Cook was a Yorkshireman. He was an interesting man, but his poor wife didn't see him very often, did she?

Arija said...

The seasons have been rather odd here too. Nature id saying spring although our coldest nights are yet to come, almonds are in full bloom and plums as well. There has been no real dormancy period for roses and spring bulbs are blooming a treat.

I love your harebells, I lost mine in the drought a couple of years ago and it is quite hard to get them again. Normal nurseries don't stock them.

I'm glad you are leaving food out for the young hedgehogs, they really are treasures in the garden.

Thank you for being a staunch friend and visiting although I can seldom reciprocate.