I noticed last night that the wheat in Townsend Meadow is on the turn – the silver-grey ears taking on the faintest sheen of gold. Out in the guerrilla garden there is also much gold on the go. The chamomile daisies are over a metre tall, and the giant mullein are being truly gigantic. Soon the helianthus will be blooming and it will be full-on yellow, here on the edge of Wenlock Edge.
Reminding myself to be grateful here in Much Wenlock.
It doesn’t take much to keep us Farrells amused, or should that be amoosed. Anyway, since the highland cattle took up residence in the Cutlins meadow, it has added a whole new dimension to popping to the High Street for some milk. I can report that Mammy and infant MacMoo who featured in earlier posts, have been moved to pastures new, and now we have only four junior MacMoos with whom to pass the time of day. But they are pretty obliging when it comes to a photo shoot, although all in all, they would much rather eat hay. Just like us, then, it seems they are easily pleased.
Usually when it comes to lime tree photos, I’m snapping the Linden Walk which is just a short trot from the house. But when I walked up there on Sunday afternoon the photos I took of it looked flat and gloomy. It was only as I was heading for home that there was a sudden change in the weather. Sun. Here it is shining through the lime trees that line the road beside the Linden Field. And here it is marking an end to our recent bout of storms and rain. At least for the next week or so. Time to get sowing and planting.
The things I do. Yesterday’s twilight with its magnificent post-storm sky had me standing on the cabin bed in my study and resting my camera on the open rooflight. If I use lots of zoom I can spy on the rooks in the wood on Sytche Lane. At this time of year there’s much to watch. For one thing they are making some serious extensions to their old nests.
For another, now is the time when the more spectacular ‘fly pasts’ begin. There seem to be two modes. The first kind involves a sudden outburst in the rookery (there are jackdaws in the wood too). For no apparent reason all the roosting birds whoosh out over the meadow, bowl around in a swirling mass and then return to the trees as if nothing had happened. The second kind is a much bigger production and usually happens around sunset or shortly afterwards. It seems to be about a gathering in of rook cohorts from the four quarters, a reconfirmation of rookery membership perhaps (?) – this after their day’s foraging around the fields.
As they return to the rookery so the aerial dance begins: sometimes high above Townsend Meadow, at others in high-speed mass swoops at ground level. It is very exhilarating. And perhaps that’s it. The display is an expression of rookish joi de vivre. And why not? If I were selling my house, I would say the view of rooks from the study rooflight is a very particular asset, though maybe not for the ornithophobic or anyone with a tendency to vertigo.
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell
The last day of February, and we had been promised a change in the weather, an elemental side-swipe from the Atlantic bringing an end to our surprise spring fling and our ‘nearly 10 degrees warmer than usual’. So I thought I’d better get this written yesterday as a small celebration of a final perfect day (cue Lou Reed). At lunchtime the errand of posting a letter turned into a full-scale ramble around the town. It had to be done. The sun was hot, the air still, and the lane to Downs Mill beckoned. But first there were the highland cattle to commune with, and bees and tortoiseshell butterflies in the Cutlins cherry blossom, and on the lane past the priory ruins there were sunny banks of violets and celandines, while in the parkland fields on either hand, sheep-mothers-to-be were quietly grazing, waiting for lambs to happen.
Here, then, are some scenes from my perfect Much Wenlock day. Thank you, beneficent nature entities, and especially for all those happy humming bees in the cherry tree.
And now for the ‘aaah’ moment:
P.S. The weather people were right. We woke to rain on the skylight and grey skies and February more as we know it.
Sun in the hellebores, and a forget-me-not sky. Not a cloud in sight, only a passing aircraft unzipping the blue. And, for heaven’s sake, it was warm enough to sit outside for morning coffee; nor did we need coats when we walked into town at lunch time. Along the verges the celandines were as wide as wide; birds twittering; butterflies flitting. In the Cutlins field we found there had been a multiplication of highland cattle: parents and calf have joined the three teens. They were all quietly grazing and munching out in the sun. At the foot of the path by the priory ruins the air was drenched with mahonia scent, and around the town there was a dreamy sense of the world just waking up, tree buds swelling and crocus out on parade.
But then as the countryman poet John Clare warns, February can be a treacherous month. Out of the blue comes blissful weather and everyone is out and about and thinking of summer. And then…and then…
Here’s an extract from the poem, for though rather florid for my taste it captures the day so perfectly, and tonight there may indeed be frost:
The sunbeams on the hedges lie,
The south wind murmurs summer-soft;
The maids hang out white clothes to dry
Around the elder-skirted croft:
A calm of pleasure listens round,
And almost whispers winter by;
While Fancy dreams of summer’s sound,
And quiet rapture fills the eye.
Thus Nature of the spring will dream
While south winds thaw; but soon again
Frost breathes upon the stiffening stream,
And numbs it into ice: the plain
Soon wears its mourning garb of white;
And icicles, that fret at noon,
Will eke their icy tails at night
Beneath the chilly stars and moon.
Excerpt of February from The Shepherd’s Calendar by John Clare (1793-1864)
So as I said to Graham as we drowsed happily on the garden bench, staring at the cloudless sky, coffee mugs in hand: better soak up the bliss while we can then. Carpe diem, says Graham.
And I suppose now I’ve mentioned the Highland calf I’d better show him to you, not at all close up, but the sun on his nose and hints of green in the willow behind:
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell
Lens-Artists: Close up This week Ann-Christine set the challenge. Please also pay the other Lens Artists a visit:
One of the very best things about living in a rural town like Much Wenlock is that you can be setting off for the shops to buy ordinary stuff like a local newspaper or half a dozen eggs, and come upon small happenings of one sort or another. So here we are. As we slipped and slid down the muddy path that brings you first to the Priory ruins, and thence to the town centre, we met up with a new batch of Highland Cattle recently ensconced in the Cutlins meadow. Teenage moos, I should think. Not fully grown anyway. They were certainly most curious, and so posed nicely to have their photos taken. Or at least two of them did. The third was too busy eating breakfast.
Yum! Lovely crunchy hay. So important to keep well stoked up in this cold snap.
Six Word Saturday Pop over to Debbie’s at Travel With Intent for some truly striking photos.
Last December we had over a foot of snow which lasted for a couple of weeks. This year we’ve barely had frost. Anyway, prompted by Lens-Artists, I thought I’d finish 2018 with ‘a year in the life’ of Townsend Meadow behind our house.
Happy New Year everyone, and may sanity and kindess be restored to Planet Earth and all who voyage on her.
Ann-Christine asks for a photographic review of 2018, however we choose to do it.