Sunday, 27 May 2012
Sights, sounds and smells.
One week of warm sunny weather is all it takes to make the English countryside come alive.
Browning knew this so well from his exile in Italy - no wonder he longed for the birdsong and the pear blossom and the cuckoo.
Well the cuckoo has yet to put in an appearance but today, with the farmer out walking with his walking group, I had coffee with a friend this morning, sitting in her garden enjoying the sun and hopefully getting an input of vitamin D.
After a watercress, tomato and goat's cheese sandwich, followed by four fresh apricots (my favourite fruit), Tess, I and the camera set off down the lane for our walk. I apologise for the quality of the photographs today but trying to hold the dog lead and the camera and also to listen for villagers' cars on their way to chapel in the neighbouring village meant that any photograph I took had to be quick.
The sun has brought out all the lovely wild flowers on the verges. There is hawthorn blossom (May blossom) everywhere - the hillside is covered with sparkling white hawthorn bushes and the sides of the lane are thick with it; the edges of the lane are lined with cow parsley and the combined smell of the two (both almondy) fills the air; buttercups are now out and replacing those early celandines. You think celandines are a beautiful yellow but you forget just how much more beautiful the buttercup is until you see it in flower again.
The farmer's favourite wild flower along our lane is the avens. There are two varieties - the wood and the water - and they have subtle differences. But it doesn't really matter which is which because to the farmer they are all 'soldiers' buttons.
Little clumps of speedwell (birds'eye) pop up through the grass here and there. They haven't really got going yet but it is nice to see them having a good try to get through the long grass towards the sunlight. They really are the clearest blue.
In some places the Lady's Bedstraw has colonised great areas and is strong enough to crowd the grass out. I have a great love of green flowers, so this has always been one of my favourites. As has the pink campion. Much of it was in the hedge bottom across beds of nettles and uneven ground, but I got as near as I dare for the photograph.
The white stitchwort, like the birds'eye, has hardly got going yet but it has pushed up through the grass too and here and there the first tentative bits of purple vetch are just coming into flower.
And what of the sounds? There are curlew everywhere, trying their hardest to lure you away from their nests in the long grass of the fields by calling and pretending a broken wing; also oyster catchers are flying over in a frenzy saying 'keep away'.
In the distance there is the clack-clack of a silaging machine - somebody is cutting and baling their first crop grass. We can but hope that they are not cutting a field where curlew are nesting - it is always a hazard. The heavenly smell of cut grass wafts over the lane.
And over all is the tinkling of the beck as it makes its way swiftly down the slope. Tess makes a welcome stop there to fill up with drinking water.
When we get home I spot a buzzard, wings so detailed against a deep blue sky, soaring above the farm and for once I really envy him. He has an overall view of all the beauty of a warm May day.