Sunday, 28 March 2010

The five-bar gate

This yo-yo weather continues. After yesterday's warm and sunny morning and the exhilaration of seeing three swallows and a wheatear, this morning saw a return to a cold W. wind, cloudy skies and wetness under foot from overnight rain. I saw nothing new or exciting.

On the reserve, in front of the barn alongside which us wardens park, there is a five-bar gate, the type that you see in old photographs with a rustic farmer type leaning against it, one foot on the bottom bar, and sucking on his pipe or a piece of hay. Our gate has a ditch either side of it, flanked by willows and reed beds, and it acts like a curtain that you step through, out into a different habitat. A habitat of flat grazing marsh, bordered in the far background by the seawall, the saltings and then The Swale. Today the gate looked quite forlorn as it stood closed with its bottom bar sitting in the water created by the ditch flooding across beneath it.
The only time that I really do the farmer bit and lean against it and chew the cud so to speak, is in September. In as much as May is the gateway to the summer, September tends to be the gateway to the autumn and then the winter. In September you can sense that the warmth and light of summer is fast slipping away and on some warm, early evenings in that month, when it still feels like summer, it is easy to lean against the gate and reflect on how good the summer has been. To hang on before going home and to paint the picture in your mind. There is an easy calm and serenity about September evenings like that as small parties of young swallows begin to come into the reedbeds to roost, resting before The Big Trip South, the first wisps of mist begin to rise from the ditches, and the dogs, weary at wandering the marsh on a warm evening, sit nearby flicking their ears at mosquitos.
And then gradually, as the mist and the dusk increases, pheasants begin to call, rippling their alarm sounds from one to another across the fields and hedgerows, the swallows rise up and fly around one last time before roosting back again, a dog barks somewhere in the distance and the dark increases, and its time to go home.


  1. Very nice Derek. That would be one of those september evenings when there wasn't any wind, rain, or chill - hmmmmm- I do recall such a september evening, was it 1980 something ? :-)

    nice read though.

  2. Now, now Warren, I can also remember "its too hot and humid today for me to go out" as no doubt you will repeat this summer in the event that we get more than one day like that.