High Summer in the Territory of Rain
This post is likely to be a bit image heavy. Though I haven’t taken any photos outside my garden for what feels like months, there seems to have been a lot going on. The birds have all fledged in a rush, and the garden is full of baby starlings, gathering up the others of their generation like a graduation, chasing each other all over the garden, trying out anything they imagine might be edible, and creating a racket like a playground. They were preceded by the blue tits, who were first off the block, but very soon joined by goldfinches, robins, and this week, blackbirds. The swifts are back on the other side of the river, and swallows on our side now, so this week I hope to fulfil an ambition and take a video of them swooping around a particular bend in the river where they seem to congregate just before rain.
This is a particularly interesting bend of the river, because it is full of wild flowers – all the haggard herbs in my Charm poem grow here, and if you go at nightfall you can see bats, and especially because this year, we were in time to go out at sunset (10.30 here just now) to see the long-eared owls. They have nested here for a few years now, so we were tipped off that they had fledged and were about to disperse. We saw three, two young ones and an adult, flitting between the branches of the willows and ash trees, and calling to each other. You can hear it on the RSPB website here:
The garden is in full leaf now, and I have begun to harvest herbs – thyme sage and elderflower for drying, chives and mint in the freezer. The first berries are almost ready
and soon I’ll be taking the last picking of rhubarb. The tomatoes are showing the first flowers and the aubergines and peppers are growing every time I look at them.
Our village is quite pretty, and it is also very close to Stirling, so during lockdown, we have actually had more vistors than in the time when a neighbour over the river described it as being ‘like Sunday every day’ here. But it hasn’t been too difficult even though our footbridge is too narrow to pass anyone safely, and we have to ask people to wait if they see someone already on it. (Some don’t, but most do). But the effect of being more aware of the wildlife does seem to have affected us too. One night our neighbour’s security light was activated by a hedgehog crossing their lawn, and otters have been seen frequently in the river – though not by me. I haven’t seen the kingfishers either, though I am assured they are here.
The pond has had something of a disaster, as a mysterious plague hit the tadpoles, after we had topped it up with tap water. I don’t know if it was too chlorinated, or if it was very cold and was a shock, after all the hot weather, but there are very few tadpoles left this year. The water irises are thriving, though and we are hoping our water lily will flower, in spite of all the duckweed.
We are in phase 1 of easing the lockdown in Scotland. It seems very slow and measured, compared with the rate of progress in England, but there does seem to be a sense of ownership of the process, with most people continuing to bide by the rules. In phase 2 we will get to visit each others’ houses, which means it will be possible to visit our Glasgow family. We are all waiting to see whether our grandson will even remember us!
Wishing you all the joys of sunny weather, summer fruits and family meetings!