The seasonal cart is over the top of the hill and starting to pick up speed in its roll down to autumn. We have had a few misty mornings and evenings of late. Not cold at all, but the air very fresh and moist. The scent of the wild camomile on the air has contributed an almost spa like quality to some of our walks. Indeed, Lyra has often returned sporting a mud pack. At Kersfield they have started to cut the corn. The fields are turning stripey with the rows of straw left for baling. Hips, haws and elderberries are just starting to change colour in the hedgerows and this morning I noticed the first acorns in the shelter belt. I have been picking up tiny cones when crossing the fields for a few days now and was pleased to find some green ones still attached when out with Lyra yesterday – the mystery is solved – they are alder. Lyra and I have been happily “testing” the brambles in the field behind the back lane for a few days now. It will be proper picking time before too long. The jeelly bag has been washed so we are hot to trot.
The hares seem to have gone but, to Lyra’s great satisfaction, they have been replaced by fat little rabbits. She has yet to catch one (and after the farrago with Squirrel Nutkin I don’t think she would have a clue what to do if she did) but is keen to try. I had a rather panicky moment a a couple of evenings ago when she disappeared through the hedge after one. I retraced my steps (there was no way I was squeezing through the hole) and after much whistling and calling she reappeared looking sheepish and sans rabbit. We have been taking the long way around the fields to avoid the wood where the game birds are being raised (which may have contributed to yesterday’s triumphant realisation that the frock I bought a year ago and which did not fit (but was retained in case of miracle weightloss) now does) and therefore I felt fairly safe letting Lyra off the lead between two distant fields. Alas no. She bolted off for an enthusiastic romp and caused a small explosion of partridges which had been roosting on a tree in the boundary hedge. There must have been ten or twelve of them and they flew off with a noisy squalking that sounded for all the world like squeaky supermarket trolley wheels. Lyra gave chase. The partridge is not a sleek bird. They have fat little bodies and look about as aerodynamic as squeezy liquid bottles. Nonetheless, they showed a fair turn of speed and were off before she got close. Remembering the impassioned partridge debate at the Georgefield barbecue, I took a good look at their legs as they flew past. I think I got a hint of red stocking. Could they be French émigrés?
At home the stealthy march of mushrooms across the lawn and round the field has commenced. If they are not your bog standard shroom I leave them be. There’s far too much of the “[ ] is a very tasty mushroom but be careful not to confuse it with the [completely identical] poisonous variety on page [ ]” in my mushroom book to inspire confidence. I await the pocket DNA probe – surely this must be on someone’s forthcoming invention list! The yellow plums are falling fast. Yesterday saw the second plum cake of the season (recipe loaded and available via the homepage) and I have a jar of plums poached in lavender syrup in the fridge to add luxury to my porridge. The scent of plums on the back lawn is intense. I have found myself wondering if you could make plum soap. (The soap making fad continues by the way, the last batch was lavender. ) We have a rowan tree laden with berries at the back proving a great hit with the birds. I may muscle in if I can get Lois’ rowan jelly recipe (hint, hint if you are reading this Lois…).