It was beautifully autumnal over the weekend, especially the early mornings, with mists and spectacular sun-rises. With all that mists and mellow fruitfullness stuff in mind my thoughts turned to sloe gin this morning and I determined to get out and pick some sloes. To be correct you should wait until they have had a frost on them but sloes on Sheppey always seem to disappear quite quickly so I picked mine this morning and will give them a few days in the freezer to mimic a frost. The crop this year is as good as I've seen it and the bushes are well laden as you can see from this photo.
Picking something free from the countryside is always a special treat and it was just so this early morning, with the sun on my back and The Swale and Harty Ferry to my side. A Robin accompanied me with its wistful autumn song, two Great Tits made their way through the hedgerow and all was well with the world.
Sloe gin is a delightful winter's drink and so welcome when arriving back home on a frozen winter's evening from a late afternoon bird count, frosty darkness outside and cold hands are soon forgotten as those first few sips are swallowed.
Saturday was a favourite type of weather for me, thick mist to the height of a house and then clear blue skies above it and getting to the reserve before it was fully light made it even better. Clarity of sound is amazing and it carries for miles and things suddenly loom out of the mist as it closes in thickly and then recedes again, a spookiness that I love.
Midge in a mist.
And gradually the sky gets bluer as the sun struggles to break clear of the horizon and the mist and then all the aeroplane con-trails seem to lead towards it. A slight breeze stirs and the mist becomes more mobile as the sun attracts it like a magnet and burns it up and then suddenly, its all gone and the curtain rises on a beautiful autumn morning.
Dawn on Sunday saw no mist, just a lovely sunrise across the saltings and a new set of con-trails still leading towards the sun. (Double click on it and enlarge it for a better view)
Later in the morning on the farmland they were sowing the winter wheat into bone dry ground and the continuing drought is illustrated by the dust cloud being kicked up from the soil. We have a mini-heatwave forecast for the next week or so and so it looks like the birdless conditions on the reserve are set for some time yet.
"The dog-pissed doorway stains
an the shop fronts,
have to wait now until it rains,
sadness like an empty bottle of wine,
is all that remains,
an dust blows in circles
as eyes weep their stains
memories like anchors, weigh
heavy on the soul"...............................Derek Faulkner