… that ubiquitous fruit … the red berry of the nightshade family, Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as the tomato plant … is having a bumper year …
… as too are the hedgerows … full of blackberries, damsons, sloes, rose hips, hazel nuts et al …
… the orchards are carrying heavy, heavy loads … hops are hopping happily … bumper harvests for the beer crew, the cider and perry lads and lasses will be well satisfied …
… misty fields curve into the horizons hold ghostly runs, creative webs glistening with dew, ripples of tall grasses, thistles, red fescue grasses … weasel runs, vole ‘twittens’, dormice hidey holes …
… following on from Marine Conservation … our fields also need protection … surveys have found that hundreds of species of plant and invertebrate live within the space of just one human footprint in rough grassland –bears thinking about and remembering.
Our fields, lands and seas hold a dynamic, complex and ancient web of life …
I’ve written about an oak tree being a veritable haven for wildlife … but how about the humble spiky thistle … offering a rich source of nectar for butterflies – painted ladies, peacocks, red admirals, meadow browns, small tortoiseshells and large white and small coppers all feed on these prickly purple bristles …
|Thistle with Meadow Brown|
… this same thistle will support more than one hundred species of invertebrate, including moths, hover flies, beetles, aphids and snails … every part of the plant is used in every stage of its life cycle …
We here in Western Europe have had a glorious summer, which I’m happy to say is continuing … bliss – our temperatures are what we had in August – and that was a warm month …
… the mists of mellow fruitfulness draw in … John Clare’s poem “Haymaking” (1793 – 1864) remind us of times gone by – two hundred odd years of them …
‘Tis haytime and the red-complexioned sun
Was scarcely up ere blackbirds had begun
Along the meadow hedges here and there
To sing loud songs to the sweet-smelling air
Where breath of flowers and grass and happy cow
Fling o’er one’s senses streams of fragrance now
While in some pleasant nook the swain and maid
Lean o’er their rakes and loiter in the shade
Or bend a minute o’er the bridge and throw
Crumbs in their leisure to the fish below
- Hark at that happy shout – and song between
‘Tis pleasure’s birthday in her meadow scene.
What joy seems half so rich from pleasure won
As the loud laugh of maidens in the sun?
Our Indian Summer is not an Indian Summer I understand – this occurs in late September to mid-November ... and is usually described as occurring after a killing frost – we may have had some gentle frosts … but not down here on the south coast.
|John Constable's The Hay Wain (1821)|
It used to be called St Martin’s summer, referring to St Martin’s Day, November 11th – though that day now has another name: Remembrance Day … an alternative was “Saint Luke’s summer”, whose saint’s day falls on 18 October.
Perhaps appropriately I shall call today’s post in Welsh ‘Haf Bach Mihangel’ or “Michael’s little summer”, as Michaelmas, the feast of St Michael the Archangel occurs today the 29th September.
|Hoverflies - various|
This will be a misnomer this year … as this week wanes to a close … the weather, here in the UK, is changing and we’re in for more seasonal weather: cooler with some rain. It had been 5 degC higher than normal!
Ready to enjoy your autumnal harvest … English Bramleys for apple pies … thick and buttery laden pastry (home-made), balanced perfectly with the tart of the apple and the sweetness of the brown sugar … to be smothered in double cream – after a hard-day’s work clearing leaves: just what we need.
|Take your pick ...|
We’ve 2,000 varieties of apples (over 7,000 world-wide) growing in our gardens, orchards and hedgerows … and we are planting trees at our homes … a crisp apple from the tree – a slice of cheddar … and a pint (or half) of beer of the 46 million craft-ale pints that are produced from one farm … bumper is the word, this year .. enjoyed in these last of the warm sunny days.
|Roast pork with apple sauce and trimmings|
A Sunday roast – fragrant roast pork with curried apple relish … followed by ricotta pancakes with sticky maple apple to finish off that lunchtime feast ..
Supper dishes … creamy roasted tomato soup with some herby buttery bread, baked tomatoes with a game sausage or two and mustard mash, pizza with home-made tomato sauce …
Baked fruits of varying sorts … pears or apples, damsons tucked into a frangipane tart, blackberries gently stewed served with ice-cream …
Our abundant crops must be made the most of ... bottled, canned, frozen, pickled … yet we must remember our wildlife … which we need to protect, to leave some of our bounty … as the hymn says …
|'Lost Count' birthday celebration - chocolate roulade, with|
blackberry frangipane tart as another choice
We thank thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food;
Accept the gifts we offer, for all Thy love imparts,
But what Thou most desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.
It is a wonderful bountiful year … we can gather, we can leave some for the wildlife, we can be guardians to our lands … and remember to waste not want not.
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