June 2012

June 6th

The cloud which ran across the downs a few evenings ago was unlike anything I have ever seen before. It looked like bonfire smoke blown sideways by a fast wind and it seemed to emanate not from the sky, but from the  land. It ran for miles, thin, wild  and disparate. Sideways rain came with it. Tonight the willow trees along the stream are waving to and fro in the wind and making  a sound like the sea, the undersides of their leaves showing almost white. There must be a thousand shades of green all around in the hawthorn hedges, the meadow grass, the ferns, and the apple trees in the orchard –  Hookers green, Chrome, Sap and Cadmium and names I know not.

June 7th

The geese are splashing under the bridge on the stream and the sheep lie under the cover of alders to  shelter from the mizzle The Jubilee flags and bunting are being taken down all through the village and I am jealous of the blood red lupins in the front garden of the red brick house on Broad street.  Our leeks are planted and the sweet peas still refuse to climb their carefully constructed tripods. Swallows are dipping  and swooping near their nests in the tin roof of the barn. There are fat clumps of blue and chalk pink comphrey opposite Bridge Cottage in a small and secret patch of hedged in wildness. Seven beehives lurk among the comphrey and there are cream saucers of elderflower on the high bushes  all around. The yellow of the oil seed rape in the field  beyond has faded to almost nothing in the  bluish green expanses of stinking brassica. Long spires  of dog rose arc over the stream towards Woolstone and there are Red Hot pokers in Mione Cottage garden  which look as though they belong in South Africa. This evening the willows are bending sideways in the wind and the rain is slashing across the attic windows: I feel I am in a ship on the high green sea

June 8th

The wind rattled the windows relentlessly all night. I woke at dawn in the half darkness and could hear the blackbird trying to sing against the roar of the wind. His song was faint.

June 21st

I ride through the early morning rural rush hour towards Bridge cottage. Head high hog weed dominates the roadside verges with its hairy hollow stalks and pale cream umbrels. Sometimes there are dusty pink heads among the cream. I have always felt sad when the hog weed takes over from the cow parsley: it means that summer is on the wane. The saucers of elder flower are going over  and the pasture waiting to be cut for hay up the long field towards  Stockholm Farm, is pink with waving heads of grass. It feels monsoon -ish. Warm and damp and tiny drops of water from last night’s rain, hang on every leaf, petal and blade of grass. On the Longcot road beside Oxleaze farm I saw some meadow cranesbill struggling through the hogweed and nettles as well as patches of rest harrow. I thought how triumphant that  these flowers not given up the ghost against all odds. Perhaps it is because the oil seed rape beside which is now gone to seed, was left untreated. There were no wild flowers atall down the long straight from Woolstone, just ten foot nettles springing up from the hedgerows. They relish the nitrogen, and are impervious to the weed killer which is forever spread across the silent stretches of cereal. Lily shies violently at a new Garden Open sign and I lose a stirrup. I love her no less and we amble home past the Hams where the dog roses are redolent of Rupert Brooke and, in their wild simplicity, are far more beautiful than the tamed roses in all the gardens I have passed this morning.  “A cold harsh solstice, “wrote Gilbert White on this day in 1792 “…. The rats have carried away six out of seven of my biggest bantam chickens…”




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