When the devil spits!

The sun has that bright harsh light that cuts across the lane and makes me shade my eyes when I meet it. The temperature is lowering and the leaves fall more readily from the trees in the swirling wind. One field in particular is coloured in the soft greens and browns of ferns, bracken and grasses. Although we’ve had some rain the ground is dry and the stone walls still don’t look as though they’ve recovered from the hot weather. The moss covering they normally have is falling back in places, stones have tumbled off  and on to the ground and holes have appeared. The small holes however I’m pretty sure are used by small creatures but the mossy shapes still look like faces to my way of thinking.

Elderberries still hang in clusters but are fewer now – and our elderberry wine is fermenting!

It is now Michaelmas and according to tradition blackberries shouldn’t be picked after this date as the Devil has spat on them. He is said to have landed on a blackberry bush as this was his revenge. They are certainly less juicy and attractive.

Some of the less well known trees are now in berry – the guilder rose behind the mill, close to the old water wheel and the spindle trees with their strange pink berries that will eventually show their orange fruit – poisonous. The snowberries or their other name, corpseberries are now full of their ghostly white berries and act as small lanterns lighting up the lane.

Hip Hip Wasp

Early morning and a blackbird sits on the ivy covered branch. There are still some blackberries left though they are smaller and less attractive looking when it comes to picking them.

In contrast the hedging of the fields are full of bright red rose hips and some of the smaller elderberry trees have branches weighed down with umbrellas of black and ripe berries.

There are several conversations going on in the mill stream this morning. There is the broader rush and flow moving the water across the wider reaches and down the hill and then there are the low sometimes light notes as the water is moved through moss covered rocks and overhanging branches now dipping into the stream. The stream quietens when it is corralled into the small, still pools before it is pushed, noisily, over the many tiny waterfalls, finally merging in the lower levels close to the main road.

The colours on the lane are changing generally as the glossy greens of the holly and ivy predominate. It is clear that we are moving swiftly towards the returning power of the Holly King.

Spiders’ webs catch on the spikes of the holly leaves like small fairy hammocks. The ivy flowers with their intricate structure are full of nectar – a great source for birds and insects at this time of year as can be seen with the wasp.

I know wasps get a bad press and they can be aggressive but they also hunt flies, aphids and caterpillars – all of which I want away from the garden.

While the greens are deep and glossy there are also the subtle, almost ‘unnatural’ colours of magenta on leaves and the bleached white creams. Occasionally there are beautiful combinations on leaves which seem to mimic exotic butterflies. It is all in an Autumn day.

Days of hot summer

After being away from the lane for a few days  the changes brought about by the heat are apparent. The hart’s tongue ferns are splayed open except for those very close to the mill stream and even the mill stream is only trickling down its route. The bracket fungus  has almost disappeared too.

The lane is wooded and slightly cooler in the hot sun than the open countryside surrounding it and the wild strawberries are fruiting. The meadowsweet is now also flowering in all its creamy beauty. The birds are flying low down the lane in groups – whether that’s seeking water from streams or what I don’t know, but it’s quite strange to see.