Perhaps because we have not been able to hold our usual summer events, the year seems to have slipped past very quickly. Looking around at Sun Rising, we are very definitely moving now into late summer. The wildflowers first to flower are now seeding, and the meadows are filled with the later flowering plants: yarrow, knapweeds and bedstraws. The little pink flowers of field bindweed are scattered along the verges. The air feels heavier, as the drying grasses move in the breeze.
Over the next few weeks, areas of grassland will be cut, lined, dried and turned, then baled to be taken off to feed winter livestock on a nearby organic farm. We cut small sections, of a third to a half acre each year, leaving other areas untouched for the wildlife. And there’s plenty of it out there in the grassland: hares, linnets, skylarks and goldfinches, the butterflies like meadow browns and marbled whites, countless moths and humming grasshoppers, as well as little newts, voles, beetles, crane flies, spiders.
Wouldn’t it be lovely (in my eyes) if we could have folk come and scythe the grass, allowing the process to be slower, quieter, more careful, care-full, perhaps even creating old fashioned hayricks. However, there are no such teams moving through the landscape as there were a century ago, and I’m not the one who would be doing the very hard work that is scything … so a young fellow called James will be coming with his tractor. I’m hoping that in my next blog post I can show you the result.
Of course, we’ll need to wait until the rain passes in order to cut the grass. While dreary grey days and drizzle can be wearying to the soul, and they continue to delay the haymaking, we are grateful for these wet days too. Some of the youngest trees here suffered considerably through the months of heat and drought earlier in the summer. Some which we thought might have died are in fact now recovering beautifully, and may well be tougher because of the experience. Some haven’t really got going this year – but, if the next nine months are less challenging than the last, they have a good chance of thriving. No doubt, at the moment, some of us feel the same about many other things in life.