11 August, 2008

High summer

Young swallows in chattering groups on the telephone wires. The barley field cut and golden, gleaned by the rooks that give the farm its name. Dragonflies like gleaming biplanes skimming the pools in the rutted track. Fat brown velvet bulrushes in the shallows at the pond margin. The common tern chicks are nearly as big as their parents - though they still beg for wriggling silver fish - and have exchanged their speckled down for mottled brown-grey feathers and rakish charcoal caps above white foreheads. Blackberries swelling in the hedgerows.

Summer reaches its zenith and turns towards autumn.

A field of ripe barley. You can tell it's barley and not wheat (the other big cereal crop in East Anglia) because it has long whiskers. John Barleycorn had a beard, remember. This will probably be destined to be turned into malt and thence into beer.

Close-up of barley showing the whiskers.

"....fireweed seeding into fluffy ashes...."

--JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

Otherwise known as rosebay willowherb. Here's what it looks like before the seeds form. It's quick to colonise waste ground, hence the name "fireweed" because it's among the first plants to spring up after a fire.

Bulrush. The flower has this smooth velvet appearance when it first forms. During the autumn it will fall apart like a motheaten cushion to release thousands and thousands of fluffy seeds. Trivia note of the week: apparently this plant used to be called reedmace, and became known as 'bulrush' because of an erroneously named but popular painting.


Unknown said...

You forgot to mention the rain.......lots of it!!
Thanks for the lovely photos

Gabriele Campbell said...

Lol Carol, I've heard some stories. :)

Nice pics, Carla. Btw, drop by at my blog, I gave you an award. :)

Carla said...

Carol - the rain goes without saying :-) Glad you liked the pictures

Gabriele - thank you, I'm honoured

Jules Frusher said...

Wow, love the pics - especially the field of barley. You obviously took these in the few days when we saw that strange yellow object in the sky ;-)

Bernita said...

"fields of barley and of rye, that clothe the wold and meet the sky..."

Kathryn Warner said...

Lovely pics! Lady D, I can't think what you mean by 'a strange yellow thing in the sky' - I've never seen such a peculiar object. :-)

Carla said...

Bernita - The Lady of Shalott, yes?

Lady D, Alianore - thanks. There's a saying that the residents of Aberdeen were the world's first atheists. Back at the dawn of time when everybody lived in caves and worshipped the sun, the Aberdonians weren't convinced it existed. (Amend to region of your choice)

Constance Brewer said...

It's nice to see fields of grain getting close to harvest. I can look at miles upon miles of prairie grass, but it's not the same. :)

Meghan said...

Lovely pictures. :D

Carla said...

Constance - yes, there's something very attractive about a field of golden grain. Maybe a distant memory of the days when it meant survival, or not?

Meghan - thanks

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Very evocative photographs and lovely descriptions Carla. Is Willowherb native?

I am always reminded of Tennyson when I see fields of barley and Sting.

'Only reapers, reaping early, in among the bearded barley.'

And 'See the west wind move like a lover's soul among the fields of barley.'

Just lovely.

Carla said...

Elizabeth - I like that line from Sting.

As I understand it, there is a native species of rosebay willowherb and a North American species. I don't know which is the more common in Britain. As they have different numbers of chromosomes they should be pretty easy to tell apart with a microscope, so I daresay somebody knows!