Tuesday, 4 September 2012
"Robins sing among the fallen apples, and the cooing of wood pigeons is attuned to the soft light and the colours of the bowers. The yellow apples gleam. It is the gleam of melting frost. Under all the dulcet warmth on the face of things lurks the bitter spirit of the cold. This is the bitterness that makes the September morning so mournful in its beauty."
Oh yes, we undoubtedly know it is September and Summer is past. But as we have had little Summer to savour, this week is such a bonus. The sky is blue streaked with stringy white clouds, there is a pleasant breeze and the hazy sun shines from rising to setting.
And, at last, the farmer is confident enough to cut the grass for second-crop silage. The forecasters have said that it will be find all week, so the risk is much reduced - it is a risk worth taking and the grass lies in neat rows across the fields.
Tess and I are at last able to walk down Cow House field, so called because the farmer's father used to walk down to the cowhouse when he was a boy every morning to milk the cows in there in Winter before he went to school. The cow house is long gone, its stone used to repair other walls and buildings. All that remains is a bit of stone wall among the hedge.
We walk down the line between two rows of cut grass. Rabbits scatter as we walk down and Tess spends much of the walk on her back legs, scouting for rabbits. I dare not let her off the lead because the farmer is going up and down the field with his haybob, tossing the grass to dry it.
The horses rest in the shade of a tree and the milking herd lay quietly in the field, chewing the cud. In the hedgerow the blackberries begin to ripen and the thistle are gone to seed.
We stop by the old lichen-covered gatepost in the hedge to listen to the rooks calling in the trees along the hedgerow and high above us the swallows swoop after insects. High swallows - a sign of fine weather according to the farmer.
In the front garden the climbing rose has a sudden burst of new flowers, the last burst of Summer I suppose, but none the less welcome for all that.
In the air is the smell of cut grass, the clack-clack of the haybob, the cawing of the rooks, the shrieking of the swallows. No it is certainly not quiet here today, but nevertheless the sounds are all welcome ones. I push up my sleeves to get the sun on my arms and get a dose of Vitamin D to build me up for Winter. Tess on the other hand has only one thing on her mind - rabbit.
The opening paragraph is, of course, the work of Edward Thomas - the poet of the countryside who died so tragically in the Great War at Arras. The last entry in his diary:
"The light of the new moon and every star
and no more singing for the bird."
Such a tragic end for such a sensitive man. But what a legacy he left behind.
This Summer's legacy is one of water - the fields are still wet and our memory of Summer is of rain. But let's rejoice in this glorious Autumn weather while it lasts.