Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Seen On A Lammas Walk

Today is August 1st known as Lughnasagh or Lammas. It's also my 38th wedding anniversary as it happens:) The wheel is turning yet again and this is the beginning of the harvest season. It is the midpoint between Beltaine and Samhain and although people think of August as being summer it is actually the first month of autumn. A walk in the country will produce many signs of this as I found when B Baggins and I went out this morning. Above are rose hips beginning to ripen, the hedgerows are going to look wonderful in a few weeks time as the wild fruit harvest is going to be prolific once again - a sign of another hard winter ahead?

The acorns are beginning to form on the oak trees. These too are going to be abundant which is good news for squirrels,mice,voles, deer and several kinds of birds especially jays.Like squirrels the jays collect and store the nuts ready for the winter. Several of these photographs will look better if you click and enlarge them - especially one near the end with a sort of brown blob in the centre!

This barn was built from bricks left over from the building of Totley Tunnel in the 1890s. The tunnel runs under the moors from Totley to Grindleford and at 3.5miles it is the longest under land tunnel in the UK - at least it was until the very recently opened tunnel near London was built. The bricks used to line the Tunnel were nearly all made locally at Totley brickworks and it was built by men using explosives and shovels to tunnel through the earth. However I digress!

Rowan berries - always the first to ripen. There are a lot of them around here as they are one of the few trees that can survive the harsh moorland environment.

Holly berries - still green as yet and regrettably in a privately owned field so unavailable for use at Yule! I must check the place where I usually get my holly.....

This sheep is one of two pet sheep and she always comes to say 'hello' as we pass. She'd like to get closer to B Baggins and he'd like to get closer to her too! Regrettably he's a sheep chaser so I have to be very careful where I let him off the lead round here.

These are alder cones and they will eventually turn a dark brown. The alder tree is native to the British Isles and grows near rivers and lakes and in boggy ground. Its wood doesn't rot in wet conditions and indeed becomes as hard as stone when left immersed in water and because of this it was used in the construction of bridges, particularly the long heavy piles driven into the ground or sometimes under water to support it. This quality for long endurance under water also made it valuable for pumps, troughs and sluices.

The soft colours and lush growth are typical of this time of the year. The woods and hedgerows are quiet during late July and August as this is the period when the exhausted bedraggled adult birds rest after the hard work of raising their young. They are moulting now and will eventually reappear with strong, pristine new feathers which will help to see them through the cold winter months.

These are the seeds of Sweet Cicely which grows wild in a good many places round here. The whole plant smells of aniseed and I love to bruise the leaves as I pass to release the scent. The leaves can be stewed with rhubarb or gooseberries and if you do this you can reduce the amount of sugar that you use. The seeds can be used in cookery too, in fact the entire plant can be used for various purposes. I have it growing in my garden and it's one of my favourite herbs partly because I love the name. Its Latin name is Myrrhis odorata.

A rather beautiful hoverfly on a pale lavender thistle flower.

All the many varieties of grasses are ripening now, this graceful, ethereal plant has the rather unromantic name of hairy brome, not a name guranteed to set the pulses racing!

Bindweed is a name to put fear into the hearts of all gardeners but its flowers are really very beautiful.

This is a real favourite of mine - the delicate purple flowers of Woody Nightshade along with the green berries that by September will be a spectacular transluscent scarlet. With the sun on them the berries positively glow and are one of the real beauties of autumn for me. It's a very poisonous plant though so never be tempted to try one of the berries!

You'll need to enlarge this photo to see someone showing considerable joie de vivre!

Who, me? Rolling about on the grass? Certainly not!

Remember the brick built barn? This is the stone built farmhouse that you can see just behind the barn in the earlier photo. Lower Bents farm dates back to at least the early 1600s and possibly a bit more than that, the earliest reference to it is 1621. These days it has a lovely cottage garden which I always enjoy seeing as I pass. I consider myself very fortunate to have so many beautiful and interesting places within walking distance of my house.


Sue said...

I forgot it was Lammas darn it -should have made some special bread or something. I do like to acknowledge the festivals on the wheel of the year but more often than not I forget.

Thank you for the reminder. Lovely pics.

pattypan.2 said...

Blessings for Lammas and also on your 38th wedding anniversary. Thank you for identifying the little cones. I have picked a load whilst out walking with Missy and brought them home to use on Christmas decorations, but did not know what they were called. How is your hand? Are you getting the movement back yet and able to get out and about foraging and doing. I hope so for your sake.

Take care dear friend and happy anniversary



George said...

A lovely post and a lovely tour around your environs, Rowan. You are, indeed, lucky to live in such a beautiful and interesting place -- and the horse obviously likes it!

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Happy anniversary! It's good that you are able to take BB on one of your lovely walks again.

Anonymous said...

You are right Rowan, there are a lot of early signs of Autumn already. Like the new header.

Penny said...

Thank you once again for a lovely walk, bringing back so many memories

Piecefulafternoon said...

A wonderful walk for your anniversary - thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures Rowan. Happy Anniversary for yesterday ... :0)

Shirl x

Rosie said...

Firstly - Happy Anniversary:) Thankyou for this lovely, informative walk - I noticed rowan berries on the local trees last week - I've really enjoyed rambling along with you and learned such a lot, too. Hope you enjoy the Bakewell Show.

laoi gaul~williams /I\ said...

bleated blessings for lughnasadh and your anniversary!

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely Lammas walk. My Lammas baking has been done a day late, I fear!

I loved the farmhouse - and just my sort of overblown garden too!

I tolerate certain wild flowers in my garden, and have to say, that there is a Woody Nightshade flowering by one of the apple trees at present . . . though I have removed the Bindweed twines which were strangling my plants. It DOES have beautiful flowers though and perhaps we should think of it as an albino Morning Glory!

Sweet Cicily, I think I am right in saying, is the county plant of Carmarthenshire, where it grows very freely. I have plenty of it at the top of the yard, beyond the veg plot.

Thimbleanna said...

Happy Belated Anniversary! You ARE very lucky to be able to walk among such beauty. Is the tunnel still in use today? And how did they light it so long ago -- or did they? Thanks for sharing your beautiful view!

FireLight said...

Happy Anniversary! Joie de vivre indeed! Love the caption on your pony's second photo! I always love strolling through your posts, Rowan! Such a joy!

WOL said...

Many happy returns of the day -- Both Lammas and Anniversary! If you don't mind, I'd like to put the picture of the lovely farmhouse and garden into rotation on my wallpaper changer. Thanks for sharing your beautiful world.

Derrick said...

Happy Anniversary, Rowan! When we lived in St. Andrews, there was a Lammas Fair every year - fairground rides in the centre of town, which I have to say, I greatly disliked! Your walk seems a much more appropriate way of celebrating!

Rowan said...

WOL, you are welcome to use the farmhouse photo on your wallpaper changer.
Thimbleanna, Totley Tunnel is very much still in use today, it's the main rail route from Sheffield to Manchester. The only light is from the engine's headlamps. The men digging the tunnel worked by the light of candles either stuck into the caps they wore or into cracks in the rocks. The conditions they worked in were just appalling.

Mary said...

Such a lovely English country walk Rowan, so many growing things I recall from my childhood days when it was such a thrill to learn the names of plants and shrubs. There was a series of field guides (for children I believe) which I loved and always carried with me so I could identify each plant. I like how UK Country Living has pushed for the return of the 'Nature Table' in schools - I'm always saddened when children today don't know the names of things on an outdoor walk in the woods.

Rowan - Clovelly is still a beautiful place to visit however they don't use donkeys any longer. We walked down last year but actually rode back up in a Land Rover (my plantar faciitis foot problem was a bit tricky for climbing back up on those cobble stones!).

Belated congratulations on your anniversary - we recently celebrated our 45th - how the years have sped by!

Happy weekend dear and thanks for always stopping by with lovely comments - they make my day!
Hugs - Mary

Diane said...

I missed this post as I was on holiday - but its a brilliant post Rowan - you always teach me something I don't know and you are lucky indeed to live in such a beautiful place. Congratulations on your anniversary by the way - a real achievement. xxx