COFFEE AND SEASONS
Blog Journal: # 2
9th July 2020
Today for the first time in nearly four months I am back in my favourite coffee shop having coffee and cake and making notes for this and future blog journals. Over these past months of lockdown I have really missed coming here. The coffee shop I know very well, it is where I come to quietly read and write and watch life, but this time it is strangely empty and quiet; people are not sure about coming inside. It will take time before confidence returns. So long as the virus is out there, people will remain cautious.
Recently I paid a visit to Hestercombe Gardens which is close to my home, it was one of those very hot days with wall to wall blue skies. It is a favourite place here in Somerset. If you are looking for peace and tranquillity, then Hestercombe is the place to head to. You can follow the walk past the waterfall and lake and sit among the trees and read and write a few lines, then back to walk among the formal gardens. A mix of Georgian landscape gardens by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde and the Edwardian formal gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens. There is always something to see here no matter what the season.
During the lockdown we have seen the clocks go forward and we passed the longest day. Dare I say I am beginning to notice these long summer daylight hours just beginning to get shorter if ever so slightly. It has not been helped of course the recent heavy grey skies that look more akin to autumn that the warm days of July. This got me thinking about seasons and how those of us who love nature and of course the gardeners among us that follow them. The autumn days of “Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness” A season of Blackberries and cobnuts. The light is receding fast each day and we kick our way through the fallen leaves, I have always loved the sound of those dry fallen leaves as we kick our way through, and look for fallen conkers from the Horse Chestnut trees. Back when I was studying horticulture in Cheshire in the late 1970’s they would have conker championships. It was all taken very seriously with stories of ‘doctored’ conkers. We watch squirrels looking for nuts and scurrying away to bury them pretending not to be seen. Can squirrels actually remember during the winter months where they first buried their stash of nuts? The colour of autumn trees provides a last warm glow before they too must fall and the trees fall into a long deep sleep ahead of the onset of cold winter days that are coming. These are the days when we retreat indoors and curl up with a book in front of the fire. But as the seasons change, nature continues to surprise us.
I am not a lover of Winter, those days when the wind is strong and the rain is heavy and cold, the year is growing old and we too begin to slow down and we retreat indoors more. I have lost count of how many umbrellas I have gone through over recent years as storm after storm blows through. I do though love those crystal clear frosty mornings when your breath hangs in the air frozen in a moment of time. A long walk and then finding a pub with a roaring log fire. Winter though always seems as though it never wants to let go and just when you think it is over, it gives one last stand and surprises us. I look forward to the shortest day as then I know the days will begin to lengthen again and now I can start to think of better days to come. Slowly the daylight hours are longer and come March Spring is here, the Chiffchaff’s are singing their name. Birds are looking at nesting sites again. The days are warming up and so is the soil and new life is starting to show. As we move into April and May, this really is my favourite time of the year. Along the Somerset Levels Bitterns with their strange ‘Booming’ call can be heard and Cuckoos are calling, the reed beds are alive with the songs of warblers that have arrived from Africa. These days are as precious as the finest of jewels to treasure. You cannot put a price on these moments. They are there to be enjoyed by everyone and to be protected for future generations. Then of course there is the dawn chorus and this year it seemed like no other spring dawn chorus due to the lockdown, no sounds of traffic so the birdsong seemed to be more enhanced. I would lie in bed and identify the birds I could hear. The pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers has taken up residence in the same hole in the nearby tree again and I can hear them as they ‘tap tap tap’ at the hole making some adjustments to their home. A pair of Starlings have taken up residence in the roof again this year, I will hear the brood as the parents busily fly back and forth with food from dawn to dusk. Then they will fledge and all will be quiet again.
We come full circle as spring becomes summer and the days are long and warm. Days of sitting in beer gardens or reading a book. This summer though is unlike any summer we have seen before. Like many I never know what each is going to bring. We must though dress our days and hold on to whatever we can.
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