Walking the Delinquent Dog this morning, I was struck by the feeling that we are reaching the peak of the summer, moving towards the tipping point, where the strong pulsing energy of late spring and early summer finally flips over into the languid pause of August and begins to be absorbed quietly back into the land.
The bracken, which not so many weeks ago I swear you could almost see growing as you stood to watch, towers over me now, but it’s stopped getting taller. Now it stands, erect and still very green, but the energy that shot it upwards has ceased. It seems happy just to wait.
Along the edge of the lane, colours are subtly changing. None of the gold and oranges of autumn yet, but look closely and notice the grasses, bleached pale blonde by the recent heat. In the hedgerow, the white elderflowers have gone, their stalks begin to turn reddy purple, the few remaining flowers are brown. The cow parsley that made the lane look as if it wore a fluffy lace collar, has now turned to rust and bends down as it dies.
In the fields, the grasses have been cut and baled, some are still there, drying in the sunshine, waiting to be collected. The crows are happy, hopping noisily amongst the bales and taking off when the red kites come gliding over them.
In the wood, the horse-chestnut trees are showing tiny, prickly, conker buds, although many fall in the thundery rainstorms. The brambles and nettles have climbed all over the paths, making it difficult to follow some of our winter routes, forcing us to choose our steps carefully.
Summer is not my favourite season. I find the heat uncomfortable, I’m fair-skinned and blonde-haired, and burn in minutes, so forays outside have to be early or late. But since we’ve had the Delinquent Dog, I’ve begun to appreciate this time of year, it seems to be saying slow down, wait, stop – which of course is what so many of us do. Nature works in cycles, and we are part of nature, so it’s natural for us to be tuned-in to this seasonal round. It’s not surprising that we want to slow down for a while.
It makes me wonder how people who work especially hard at this time of year manage to do it – I’m just extremely glad not to have to.