This weeks words, “Reflections on a Changing Season” are by Juliet Foster.
The photograph is of Juliet’s dog Thady – an irrepressible terrier. Never far from
Juliet’s side and always enthusiastic at the prospect of a walk!
Reflections on a Changing Season.
I would miss so much that surprises and thrills me had I not got Thady, my
canine companion to walk. Changes are rapid as summer considers fading into
Autumn, leaving ripe and plentiful berries and laden fruit trees; hay-making is
now accomplished, the fields are already green and fresh, harvesting is in full
swing. Tractor engines whine as they struggle up the nearby inclines, bales are
piled on top of them, as high as houses, they batter the boughs of trees that
dare lean across the lanes. The snap of their branches as they meet the firmly
stacked bales saddens me.
The skies were empty this morning, nothing moved along the hedgerows,
not a whisper, not a sighting nor a flutter of wings. The seeds are thickly
scattered upon the bare harvested fields, yet it surprises me that there is
no scampering or hasty alighting of small birds as Thady and I approach. He
pauses to relish the scents whilst I look and listen for a buzzard mewing and
effortlessly hovering or gliding across the clear sky.
Not all the round bales have been collected from the fields. As I dreamily
gazed skyward, Thady looked up and suddenly found himself in front of a
monster, he cried out in distress and lurched on his extended lead, dragging
me into an unexpected twirl, jerking my back into two directions at the same
time. I knew from the pain it would involve a visit to the osteopath, my back
is prone to over re-act to sudden movements. The monster was a huge round
bale sitting in the middle of the path, he thought it had landed from outer
space. I managed to get down to his level and slowly pulled him towards it as I
gently spoke to him, he began to calm and I pulled my painful back upright. As
we moved away, he lifted his leg and peed on it. It had gone the next day.
Recently I went into the garage to open the door fully and let Thady out. This
is always left partially open to enable the swallows to fly in and out. I always
check the shelves at the back of the garage to see how many swallows are
roosting there. There are usually between one and three, the majority of our
residents live upstairs in the garage loft. No-one was there. Suddenly I realized
a huge brown bird was sitting on a table leg, which was upturned on top of
another one waiting to go to the restorers. The door was still opening, I was
mesmerized. Silently this huge bird flew under the door, turned right and flew
into the woods. I am not at my most alert when I have just got out of bed, but
I suddenly realized a tawny owl had found a new roosting post. We have not
seen a swallow in the garage since that morning, I pray it did not kill any of our
summer visitors, but he clearly terrified them. They left us a month earlier than
usual. Not a swit or dance from the sky above us. I pray they are safe, and by
now reaching South Africa. I hope they return to us next year.
Our side-lawn is strewn with walnuts. I have bowls of them around the
kitchen but sadly I do not know when they are ready for eating. I am sure it is
too early to crack these nuts, I believe they are green until October by which
time they are considered ripe. What a joy if we can eat our own nuts. The
blackberries are huge and plentiful in the garden this year, but I had to buy the
cooking apples to make the traditional autumn pudding. We have an orchard
that was planted in celebration of the Millennium, all the apple trees are old
Herefordshire varieties, such as Pig’s Nose Pippin and Rushock Permain which
have produced fruit for the first time this year, however, they are not ripe until
between October and January. I wish there was a Bramley instead of all these
late cookers. There is only one eating apple.
Road kill seems to have reached epidemic proportions on the minor road
which runs past our home. Badgers, foxes, pheasants and birds of prey have
died in this way. Recently, soon after turning out of our drive a large newly
killed bird lay in the road. I turned away as quickly as I could, my eyes misted
over as I past an owl or buzzard. I was convinced it was the buzzard who glided
over the house, sat on the orchard fencing, sat in a tree near the house and
accompanied us on our morning walks, mewing as we walked round the fields.
At 5pm I finally heard a buzzard calling, I was happy and sad, if she was there,
our owl who hoots most of the day and night must have been the victim. As I
walked towards the house, an owl called, perhaps telling me she was safe, it
was not her.
Motorists, forever unperturbed, drive over the dead creatures, their dignified
being reduced to an unseemly pile on the road which motorists squash until it
is as flat as the tarmac on which it died.
Meanwhile, Thady and I walk alone.
By Juliet Foster ©2013