Late May nature diary
The second half of May starts off with paths overgrown with hanging wet branches and weeds, a real nursery for the baby slugs. All misted with the sweet smell of damp new-mown grass. The return of warmth; with a flush of daisies poured like calamine on the heat-rash of a summer sward of buttercupped grass in Underhill Park. A light fall of May blossom petals are bothering onto the ladybird nettles that ambush bare legs with stings that creep up to a crescendo. The garlic now resembles a field of ripe banana skins, slipping the baton of early summer onto the buttercups that climb on backs of even more buttercups in a race to outshine the sun.
Shiny heads of grass are waving in the sea breeze under a strange jellyfish sky. Potted plants in sun-trap gardens are shouting in exuberance, and on every wall the snow-on-the-mountain, aubretia, and campanula are blistering. Our cat is sitting still in the daisies sniffing the morning sun, with each yellow daisy opening in a galaxy of suns bursting like champagne. In the evening sunlight, the silver birch is a fork of lightening with dark strings of clouds tattooed on its trunk. Look! The swallows are back, pathfinders for the Red Arrows air show in July.
The sea is warming, and with longer swims one can feel the pacing of strokes to the periodicity of waves. For the first time there are some warm patches in the sea, and the toddlers are showing how it should be done, screaming with abandon. There is a blush of foxgloves wrapped in a grass blanket or standing proud surveying the coastline. The breeze is weaving the shadows of a summer dream on the washing lines afresh. Greenflies are walking the tightrope of my tea cup edge, glistening in the oblique sunshine, or treading on the thin skin of a Darjeeling afternoon tea with cakes. Ahhh Summer. The bumble bees on the sage think it is Christmas, with its amethyst fairy lights and the heavy aroma of a great aunt’s scented gift. Alongside, the mint is looking to be the next beanstalk for Jack in a giant blue sky. The apple blossoms have set, so apple pie is back on the menu, and with the salmon pink quince are poaching in the sun.
By the end of the third week in May the runner bean plants have been hardened off and planted into a warm late afternoon soil, and are settling for the night. In the morning they are wrapped warm, in a gentle mist of rain, and although the daisies are studying their feet, the beans are standing tall on their first day of freedom. They know that the forecast is for a warm end to the week with increasing sunshine.
A mix of pale- and deep-pink cranesbill spill like Turkish Delight in icing sugar. One simply has to smile. The blackbirds at the nest are tut-tutting our fix-eyed cat, hypnotised by their comings and goings.
In case we think that the blossoms have reached their zenith, the Rose Bay Willow Herb says “just you wait and see what we have planned to set June aflame!”
The sisters May and June are surely the best of months?
Oh yes! We also joined Paul Llewellyn for a badger watch in his garden – truly magical. It is described in my poem “Paul Llewellyn – antiques, art, and badgers” which can be read here: http://baitthelines.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/paul-llewellyn-antiques-art-and-badgers.html
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His poetry can be seen here: http://baitthelines.blogspot.co.uk/
His photography can be seen here: http://jimyoung14.blogspot.co.uk/
Jim has also written a biography of his childhood in the Lower Swansea Valley: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Growing-Lower-Swansea-Valley-Memoirs/dp/1530977746
Jim has a poetry Twitter account:
and a FAcebook page here: