"The Water Rat was restless, and he did not exactly know why. To all appearances the summer's pomp was still at fullest height, and although in the tilled acres green had given way to gold, though rowans were reddening, and the woods were dashed here and there with a tawny fierceness, yet light and warmth and colour were still present in undiminished measure, clean of any premonitions of the passing year. But the constant chorus of the orchards and hedges had shrunk to a casual evensong from a few yet un-wearied performers......" the Wind in the Willows.
Despite the fact that we have another hot, sunny and bone dry week ahead forecast, to add to the eight weeks of drought that have already occurred, there are signs that autumn is almost upon us. I feel like the Water Rat, no matter how hard I try to pretend it's not happening, the season is changing. The swallows and martins have sped though heading south for the last couple of weeks, Cuckoos and Swifts are distant memories and more than anything, the days are getting shorter.
The situation I seem to be obsessed with at the moment is the drought, almost ten weeks with just 2mm of rain has left the area looking very yellow and dust dry, (see below). The ditches stink with stagnated and inch deep water and are failing to act as wet fences to keep the cattle in and there are cracks on the sea wall that you could break your leg in. But it's the normal weather cycle that we come to accept on the North Kent marshes, I can guarantee that at some stage in the winter I will be complaining about how wet it is.
Normally at this time of the year I would be thinking about gathering in some sloes to make my annual bottle of sloe gin but this year the hedgerows look quite bare, it could be a struggle to find enough. I tried a sip of last year's the other day and it has turned out really well, how well a small glass goes down after returning in the dark from a bitter cold afternoon on the marsh!
I mentioned the wildfowlers in the last posting and have chatted with several over the last couple of days as they come back to the sea wall from dawn flights out on the saltings. Below, taken from the seawall, you can see a couple having a chat out on the saltings before packing up, notice how even the saltings are burnt yellow from the heat and sun this year. What you can't see in the photo are the deep and muddy gullies that meander through the vegetation, that are filled by the tide during high tides and can make it quite hazardous in the dark. Talking to the wildfowlers this morning it seems that the geese that I mentioned in my last blog have continued to frustrate the wildfowlers by flying the length of the reserve each morning, well inside the reserve - almost laughable.
Shopping in Morrisons at lunch-time I stopped to read a poster put up outside by a member of the public. It related to a small terrier type dog that had escaped from a car en-route to the vets for some treatment to some serious ailments. It was last seen running across a main road and into some farmland and has been missing for over a week. As a dog owner myself I have been constantly thinking about that poor, terrified dog out there somewhere and imagining how I would be if it were one of my two, don't bear thinking about!
Lastly, as an avid reader of anything to do with well known people who lived through the 1920's-1950's, especially the Bloomsbury group, I am thoroughly enjoying this new book about the six Mitford sisters.