1 August 2017
There is an absence on the woodland floor that registers suddenly despite having happened gradually. Last Autumn’s leaves are largely gone: subsumed into soil; blown by Winter’s winds to rot in other places; crushed into shrinking shards; and thinned by cold and rain until they are but wispy skeletons.
2 August 2017
Did men, to honour gods or riches, real or imagined, construct cathedrals of stone and coloured glass to mirror the wonders of the woodland; from great buttresses of trees with limbs of oak to dancing light dappled through some leaves; from cool shaded corners spiced with flowers to a sense of space and awe?
3 August 2017
I welcome not the hornet buzzing round my face. I know not why. I appreciate the sloe needs defence against the deer to give it time to grow its seed to fruit; the wolf needs speed and teeth to bring down its prey; the honey bees need stings to defend the hive, sometimes from hornets that would eat them up. And perhaps the hornet needs its sting to protect its genetic heritage, which may lead we know not where.
4 August 2017
Mushrooms and toadstools seem to spring from nothing; decorating darkened spaces with their browns and whites, and punctuating grasses with their clumps or drawing circles in the earth. Underground they are linked by threads and tendrils of which we know so little. I wonder how they see the world when they push up their periscopes.
5 August 2017
Wind winds wondrous ways through treetops marking morning. Each tree sings a different melody; the broadleafed oak and beech a mix of base tones; poplars and fruit trees higher notes. A better ear than mine may find the alto and contralto but all hearts that listen can hear the music of the wood.
6 August 2017
Cool night air lingers on my skin; its last chance for contact before the rising sun stirs and shakes and excites it. The grass holds a thin dew that will also disappear as the day warms; yet some will sink into the soil to be taken up by these self-same grasses, which will use the sunlight and the air to build their food and grow their fronds to capture the next night’s condensation.
7 August 2017
Stealthily and silently the river moves through the land; thin and depleted; wiry and lean, hidden by the summer growths that line the banks and screen its presence. In quiet places where the waters slow the surface looks unmoving with its coat of dust and pollen, as if skimmed with oil; and where rocks would run deeper water ragged there is the merest tinkle.
8 August 2017
Dew is in command this dawn; hot day, clear night, allows it to arrive and dominate. Not just the ground growth but every leaf is coated; a breezy gust shakes the branches and it falls like rain and as the air settles drops re-form at leaf tips waiting to be dropped or slowly to evaporate.
9 August 2017
Rain dribbling from the leaves feeds the dried earth which laps up the moisture and holds it tight to protect it from the coming sun and prevent it running off to dance and play in streams and rivers and escape once more to oceans deep to cool and warm and climb into a cloud and be released on pastures new.
10 August 2017
Voices on the morning walk of two dogs and one man are rare, so the child’s questions comments and delights still the birds and hold the world’s attention. Three generations held in harmony by the damp earth leaves bent with water and dogs hoping for a treat.
11 August 2017
The world has a new vibrancy or at least a different vibrancy; richer and fuller, cello rather than violin, with water in its veins; grasses that do not look so frail and wan; twigs that have sap to bend not break; insects that look plumper; yet the river is no deeper, unfed by the rain, only the surface has changed, oiliness cleared for a few days.
12 August 2017
A young oak grows fifty feet from the tree that probably fathered it mothered it and let it have sufficient light to survive. The elder tree carries three mighty limbs from where it was pollarded at least two generations ago, long before the young oak was a twinkle in anyone’s acorn.
13 August 2017
With a hint of drizzle and a taste of coolness summer slouches its way through the middle of the year; sneers at sloes swollen by the moisture; sniggers at figs slowly splitting from the sudden rain; smiles at engorged elder berries and smirks at blackberries ripening amongst the brambles.
14 August 2017
High speed deer crossed the path this morning followed by young dog at full pelt trying to use his ears for extra pace. Old dog looked on wondering why. Deer, an adolescent of this Spring, returned having failed to negotiate the river. Young dog followed. Deer doubled back and this time found a spot to leap the water. Young dog failed to follow, so no venison for dinner.
15 August 2017
Empty thunder rumbles menacingly, stomping about like a spoilt child disallowed the rain it so obviously needs. Circles slowly, fading in the distance before returning re-circling and repeating all its sound and fury, desperately trying to squeeze water from sullen clouds but only a handful of drops are made to fall.
16 August 2017
There is a copse of alder near the path; lacking the majesty of oak, the might of beech or strength of walnut; a little ragged follower amongst the trail of trees. One of their number is faltering and leaning, roots beginning to fail and canopy sparse and shabby. It may live but a year or two and its companions will watch and stand witness and perhaps remember.
17 August 2017
Spaces appear from mowing and suddenly without warning there stands a metre of gangly teenage nettle challenging one’s assumptions; spindly and distant from its fellows it sways in the gentle breeze, shoulders pushing against the flow, daring me to bring it down.
18 August 2017
Rain, not the sheets and stair rods of middle Winter, not the bucketing downpours of Autumn nor the sudden showers of Spring; but rain all the same, not the faint hint of humidity hanging in the air, not the drizzle that barely reaches to the earth nor the wash of moisture upon the leaves and grass; real rain, drops of water wet and falling soaking into the earth. And the river watches wondering if any will arrive to raise it from the sludge.
19 August 2017
Damp earth holds moisture from yesterday’s rain and night’s dew; clamped close, denied to the river which sulks almost silently. Used to thin summers this is thinner than most; what water there is, is slow and sluggish. Detritus builds in the bottom, leaves and twigs that must wait for a full flood to churn the silt and send them on their way.
20 August 2017
Young dog’s nose knows this morning before we arrived something left its scent across the woodland; it must be followed through bush and briar under branch and by butterfly; sometimes silently or crashing crazily back and forth and left and right; then momentarily motionless nostrils twitching before hurtling hard again into the fruitless search.
21 August 2017
The air is not yet balmy holding to the clear night’s cool, and already areas out of shade are warming, the change palpable as we cross from space to space. It is still, only moving as we push through from place to place, stirring warm and cool and changing both and changing us.
22 August 2017
Light builds warming turning dancing shadows through the leaves, catching every movement. A insect bright, reflecting sunshine takes off from a leaf that balances on the end of a twig that moves in response flickering in and out of the light, flexing slowing to half a bright lit leaf and a dark shadow.
23 August 2017
Risen, if only nominally, the sun is coddled in the clouds, abed the day of Agincourt. The wind is exercising, rhythmic gusts followed by silent pauses held until the topmost leaves have almost settled, then repeated and repeated. And at the turn of our walk, the tempo changes, shorter puffs and shortening pauses as of accelerating effort.
24 August 2017
There is a quiet; not a hush of heartfelt hopeful expectation, nor a silence filled full with terrible trepidation; but a quiet, a pause within the noise of wind, the scurry through the undergrowth and the creaking of ancient trees. And still the spider will take the fly and the bird will eat the spider; and this morning they are working quietly.
25 August 2017
Spikes on hawthorn are straight and long and hurt. Thorns on brambles are hooked as scimitars and as sharp as pain. These two control the edges of the path; a self-replicating growing stretching border force that shows no prejudice but will run its claws through all who pass.
26 August 2017
Proud thistle, bent double, an old soldier battered by the wind of battle and the rain of randomness. In your Springtime you bloomed and blossomed pink and purple; until the storm you least expected broke your back. Now head bent to the earth you push out your seed, most to cluster sheltered on the ground; unlikely to survive, but perhaps the wind will take a few to give a chance to generations.
27 August 2017
On a bank in soft silt a seed has set where water flowed and in another year would have washed it way downstream losing it to life and flower and future; unlike its fellow rooted in some softer ground kept loose by slowly moving water it has not fallen and clings unto the soil and insects feed upon its blooms to spread the seed for one more year.
28 August 2017
The oaks are playing a timpani with acorns. Some are dropped almost silently brushing on the drum skinned leaves; others hit a branch and resound across the space; a few take a direct fall unto a mighty limb a strike a base note before they disappear; and the smallest handful dragged down hard by gravity land on stone releasing a hard sharp beat with little resonance. There are possibilities for some form of jazz.
29 August 2017
Butterflies are everywhere flitting between the nettles we grow so prodigiously; from cabbage whites in trios acting suspiciously around the vegetables to red admirals – those first choosers of butterfly names – regally sunning themselves on burnished leaves; all manner of dappled browns; and the occasional black and yellow.
30 August 2017
Night time rain has splashed some water into the grass, yet bare ground admits of nothing fallen; if anything fell it has been sucked in and absorbed leaving no evidence of passing. Soil sits and waits for proper water, Autumn storms that unbake the earth and turn the clay to something softer, closer to loam than terracotta.
31 August 2017
Rain, real rain; insufficient to reach the river but enough to mark the ground and claim the space. Woodland, like a zebra’s hide in the still air, striped with heat. The warmth of sun rising in a cloudless sky countered by the cold that hangs on shaded grass and soil that will with deep reluctance give back the coolness of the rain.