Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Into late summer

Under the midday sun, when the air is filled with insect song, it's easy to imagine that these endless summer days will last for ever. And yet all around is an undercurrent of feeling, signs that we try to ignore, of the continual march of time. 
The year is racing away into late summer. A high sun blazes from a clear sky; we can seek the shade but the trees and plants have to stand and bask in its heat. They know however that the hot hours will not in truth, stretch on for ever, but are now each day growing shorter. Many of those prized flowers that we sought and waited for when the year was young, are faded, gone. The grasses are tall, dry and topped with tassels of seed. In the hedgerows, the bindweed trumpets silently proclaim their strangling triumph, although some of their lower leaves are already yellowing and wilted from the drought. Hips and haws await the swelling rain. And rain will come, with its fanfare of thunder, to freshen the dusty leaves and refill the ditches above which dragonflies quarter. 
Between those leaves the smaller birds are keeping a low profile. Fledglings from early broods are learning the lessons of life, unaccompanied by their parents who are busily feeding new young mouths or moulting their tired summer plumage. 
But summer is not done yet! There is still time when school is closed or work finished, to skip or wander down green leafy lanes. Time to take a picnic on a grand adventure, scramble that hill to see over the horizon. Clouds of glittering midges throng in the sunniest places, each individual forming part if the larger movement, alternately shining and invisible as if made of light themselves; Perhaps after all, they are faeries the stories tell of. Butterflies flit in woodland glades, and the electric song of crickets and grasshoppers can be heard late into the evening on warm still days. By night, bats flicker on the edge of the dark sky, plucking dancing moths from the warm, scented air. 


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