Monday, 28 October 2013

Calm after the storm

There was a storm last night that had been hyped for days beforehand.  There were constant reminders about taking care and not going out unless you had to.  They weren't sure where the path of the storm was headed, only that the South Coast of England would bear the brunt of it.   We were luckier than some, just a couple of fences blown over and a little bit of rain getting in.  

I've got to say that I'm really not keen on weather like that, it just makes me tense and then means I really can't sleep well.  So last night when the wind and the rain battered the front of our house, I was awake constantly asking myself whether the dripping sound was inside or outside and wondering if I would ever get to sleep.  Of course the more questions you ask and the more you are concentrating on the noise, the less you sleep.

This morning we walked into work as usual, looking at the mess left behind - a tree in the road, the shutters from a nearby house flung in two directions and lots of twigs and leaves everywhere.

We also noticed these fabulous fungi.  If anyone can identify them for us, that would be great.  I shouldn't need to say, but obviously we aren't going to eat them.  Partly because its potentially dangerous and partly because they were in someones front garden!

The weather this morning was still blustery, but it was bright and sunny and quite calm after all the drama of the early hours of the morning.  The deep darkness with its westerly winds, torrential rain and fretful sleep has gone away.   For now.

And at lunchtime in the park, if it wasn't for the branches scattered around, you would never have known how loud and chaotic and slightly scary it sounded last night.   The weather is no longer a gentle late summer, Autumn has arrived with all its squally changeable tendencies - later this week we will arrive at November.

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.
Louisa May Alcott

Friday, 18 October 2013

St Luke's little summer

Today the 18th of October is the feast day of St Luke, the writer of the Gospel that bears his name and patron saint of artists and doctors.  According to ancient writings Luke was not only a writer, but a Doctor.  St Paul referred to him as 'the beloved physician'.  Tradition also suggests that Luke was also an artist who painted a portrait of Jesus' mother Mary.  

St Luke's day was traditionally a day when girls could foresee who they might marry.  They should put a mixture of spices, honey and vinegar on their faces before going to bed and say the rhyme 'St Luke, St Luke, be kind to me, In dreams let me my true love see'.  I've also read that this day was also known as Dog Whipping Day when all the stray dogs were whipped out of the town.  Not quite as pleasant an idea!

Trees changing colour in the park

I thought of the old saint this morning when realising just how warm the weather has been the last couple of days.  This last flourish of warm calm weather was often called St Luke's little summer, the calm spell before the autumn frosts and winds start to blow.  Last night we left the back door open until later in the evening and listened to a robin singing in the dark.  He sang so sweetly to no one in particular but I like to think he sang for me.
As it was dark I couldn't get a picture, so here is our robin singing earlier in the year

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Wildlife at Hazel Cottage

Autumn seems to bring out the wildlife here at Hazel Cottage.  We were particularly happy to see a squirrel is back in the garden.  Seeing as we have a large hazel tree we were a bit sad when we seemed to be without a squirrel for a while.  But the lure of the hazelnuts brought one back into the garden - he is spending every single moment running about the garden at high speed hiding food.  The squirrel hides nuts everywhere - no doubt we will find several hazel trees in time!

The robin is also far more visible at this time of year - after his summer hiatus.  We see him every day now, and hear him constantly tik tik tiking.
Of course the other wildlife are the hundreds of spiders all over the garden.  I tried taking some close up pictures...
For someone who is a little afraid of spiders, I do find them really fascinating as well. 

They appear to work so very hard at building their webs this time of year that I end up feeling guilty if I have to break a bit of web.  Insane especially when sometimes I have to break a web to get out of the back door....

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
Humbert Wolfe

Monday, 7 October 2013

Such variety, such beauty, such magnificence: A walk in the woods

We had a lovely autumnal walk in the woods last week when we were away.  The trees were so large that when it rained we barely felt more than a drop.  The leaves had already started to fall but the weather was still warm and slightly clammy. We walked for a couple of hours, enjoying the peace and admiring the beauty of it all.

There is always a sense of permanence and timelessness in a woodland for me.  As if nothing has ever changed for hundreds of years.  And yet, there is a constant change of the seasons - the trees were resplendant with leaves still, but in a matter of weeks, they will change colour and fall.   The early morning mists of autumn have begun already.  The spiders webs decorate every tree, hedge and washing line and the nights are indeed drawing in.

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy, And the dimpling stream runs laughing by; When the air does laugh with our merry wit, And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.
Lord Byron

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
John Muir

Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt.
William Allingham

What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?
E. M. Forster

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.
Edwin Way Teale

I know no subject more elevating, more amazing, more ready to the poetical enthusiasm, the philosophical reflection, and the moral sentiment than the works of nature. Where can we meet such variety, such beauty, such magnificence? 
James Thomson