The boys are off for long awaited haircuts today so Lyra and I have the afternoon to ourselves. It has been hot and sultry all day. Yesterday’s rain has not dried up, leaving puddles in the tractor tracks to be jumped, and there is a gently steaming feeling in the air. We skirt the small wood to the north but do not go in as the pheasant chicks have arrived. From the track I can see that one has found its way out of the pen and is desperately trying to remember how it achieved this feat so it can get back in. I would give it a leg up (in my role as family bird whisperer) but Lyra is fascinated and tugging at the lead. We trot on until we are well and truly safely past before I let her run free.
There are lots of little white and brown butterflies in the air. It seems to me that the smaller and more subtly coloured ones are much more flittery and fluttery than the large brightly coloured ones, which tilt and hold the pose in the garden. Much stalking and patience from the photographer’s assistant (who makes a nest and snoozes to pass the time) is required to delivers a single shot of a speckled wood and a slightly out of focus small white.
It is a time of seeds. The thistles are exploding with Lyra coloured down. In the hedgerow there are giant plates of rich gold and mahogany hogweed seeds amongst feather soft white tails of Timothy grass. Our old friend the drainage ditch between the light golden wheatfields has disappeared under plumes of sedge. Over the hedge the oilseed rape has turned digestive biscuit brown. I make it half past summer by the dandelion clock.
There are still splashes of colour in the margins and hedgerows. The cutting of the field margins has sparked a new flush of pungent wild chamomile. All along the hedgerow there are spikes and splashes of purple willow herb and dotted in the damper areas spikes of hairy marsh woundwort and yellow agrimony. To my surprise, just at the crest of the hill the hedgerow is dotted with the light clear blue of chicory. We used to see this a lot in the south of France in holidays of yore, but not so often here at home in Scotland. I think of our lavender harvest and the outdoor grape vine I saw in the garden centre last week suddenly seems distinctly feasible.
On the way home I can see the green elderberries and haws forming and winding amongst them brambles beginning to ripen. Indeed from the missing one in the middle of the cluster, someone has already found one ripe enough to eat. Time to dig out the jam jars.