For the last few months I’ve been writing nothing but boring ol’ science*. Fortunately for those of you with withdrawal symptoms for nature notes from our Newbury garden, my wife Rebecca has stepped into the breach with this country diary style piece. She’s a freelance proofreader and book reviewer with a fabulous book blog – do go and explore the literary delights on offer at bookishbeck.wordpress.com.
*I sincerely hope it is not actually boring!
Country Diary early Sept. 2018
SIT. sit. SIT. sit. SIT. sit. I was going to keep walking to the summer house to have my tea there, but it seems the gangs of dark bush crickets behind me and across the way are inviting me to stop sooner.
Okay, I’ll sit for a while, just here, on the edge of the garden path. What would you have me see?
When I scale back my own activity to a minimum, I can appreciate how busy the wider life of the back garden is on an early September day. There’s a Crayola seafoam-coloured froghopper on the trailing ivy by my feet. A male blackbird alights on the fence, emits a few chacks of mild alarm with a blackcurrant eye fixed on me, and continues on his way. A young buzzard issues plaintive screeches somewhere overhead, while the fledgling woodpigeons in the neighbours’ grapevine squeal for alimentary attention.
Wasps are gnawing at the fences to either side, a sound that reverberates much more loudly than you might expect given that it comes from the jaws of a two-centimetre insect. They’ve been nibbling at our sheds for months to create papery grey nests, like the one by the tap that’s currently rendering the hosepipe unusable. I join their din by munching on an oaty biscuit as I pick up a collection of short fiction and read a story about a visit to a graveyard.
As vibrant as the garden feels these days, with its abundance of ripe pears and blackberries and the birds flying through by day and hedgehogs snuffling about by night, it’s impossible to forget that winter will be right at autumn’s heels. The bryony that so energetically engulfed the shrubbery in this patch is dying back, its bouncy green coils drying to a crispy brown. I look at the fading tendrils and think of my own silvering hair. Must ageing feel like failure?
Before too many weeks have passed I’ll be bundled up in seven layers, looking out from my study window and marvelling that it was ever warm enough to sit awhile on the garden path.