During a walk recently I realised that the seasons are changing already.Â The summer that we all look forward to with such forlorn hope here in England is inexorably passing into autumn, without ever delivering more than a few good hot days here and there.Â I’m told that the best part of the summer that this particular part of the East Midlands experienced this year was at the end of May, and into early June – just exactly the period when we were away on holiday in America.Â Ah well, we did get some pretty good hot weather over there, visiting as we did Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California!
But back to autumn, here in dear old Blighty.Â What was it that brought autumn to mind?Â Oh, the usual signs were there.Â Bright red hawthorn berries festooning the hedgerows, blackberries and elderberries ripening, mushrooms sprouting up in the fields, butterflies looking old and tired as they flutter in the grasses instead of flying around our heads …
I took a few pictures, as you can see. Each autumn, enormous field mushrooms pop up in the pastures where we walk the dogs. It’s probably quite safe to pick them to eat, because they don’t use weedkiller over there, but I’m simply not confident enough about identifying safe species, so I don’t risk it.
On the way back into the village we saw that the House Martins were gathering on the telegraph wires, and starting to talk amongst themselves about the long flight back to Africa.Â So nice to see them!Â The Swifts were conspicuous by their absence this summer – they used to spend all day soaring in untidy circles high above the church spire a few years ago.Â Noisy little things, but I loved them – you can listen to both birds on the pages I’ve linked to – they’re on the wing all day, never resting.Â In a strange way they remind me of flies buzzing around a light with their endless zigzag circling, but they’re a lot more beautiful and restful to watch.
And peeking over a garden wall, there was a carpet of little flowers nestled under a sheltering tree – hardy cyclamen, positively glowing among the leaf litter. Â We have some in our garden, too, but I don’t think they’re out yet.Â I must go and look!
The little moth caterpillars that I’ve been feeding have dug themselves into the dirt at the bottom of their jar, and are pupating at last.Â I check on them daily, to make sure they aren’t ready to fly yet, but I think it will be a while … I wonder if, this late in the year, they’ll stay as chrysalises all winter?