The moments of sunshine appear in and out of showers in these end of summer days, as I notice the bees nipping in and out of the fading flowers for every last dusting of pollen.
With the cooling of the summer’s warmth, is it my imagination that the bees’ furry coat becomes fuller?
We spent the last week of summer visiting John’s family in Hereford where the round bales of hay were being rolled in the fields and the trees were showing the first tinges of autumn.
I’ve always liked the autumn and winter months, perhaps because I was born in the winter. At the same time there is also a feeling of sadness as summer ends.
My grandad used to call it ‘the ebb time’. I feel the retreating evening warmth in the buzzing of the bees and watching them eagerly gathering every last flowerful of nectar from the Japanese anemones in the garden.
This year it’s different because I see the summer sunshine in my bees’ honey. I can appreciate the hard work of summer’s end and enjoy the beginning of autumn as we take the harvest and prepare the hives for the winter.
In Hereford I saw the richness of the harvest in the fruits of the fields as we picked blackberries, plums and apples for pie and crumble.
The cows were watching as we filled up tubs with fat juicy blackberries from the hedgerows. They (the cows) were inquisitive, said John’s mum. So was The Gruffalo, the magnificent new bull, but he got fresh hay, not blackberries, for supper and enjoyed his nose being scratched.
After the bank holiday’s rain had passed, we drove ‘abroad’ to Wales to view the impressive Victorian dams set in the beautiful Elan Valley in Rhayader. The country is always changing in Wales. It’s stunning.
A visit to the Elan Valley “never fails to delight and inspire” says the information at the visitor centre. I could imagine that living here would inspire creativity to flow from every pore.
There is a feeling of spending time in nature that I can only describe as contentment.
We met a friend of mine for lunch by Hereford cathedral and he put into words exactly what I felt. In London there is everything to do and no time to do it. Here, there is a lot to do and more time to do it. While being on holiday puts everything in a romantic light, I could easily imagine swapping city life for living in the country.
On the farm John’s dad brought home a bunch of hops and asked if I knew what they were. I didn’t.
He also found a dead grass snake in the corn field to bring back for show-and-tell. We laid him to rest behind a tree in the garden.
The last day of summer was the best day with deep blue skies and golden sunshine. I sat on the back of the bike as John cycled from the cottage to the farm house, listening to the birds and bees and watching the cats preen lazily in the yards.
We enjoyed a full roast dinner before saying our goodbyes and driving back to London. John took the very scenic route through Gloucester and Burford in the Cotswolds, and we eventually arrived home just before sunset. Our small London flat smelt of the honey that had been slowly dripping from frames hanging over a container for a week. Patience and perseverance has paid off, I may be able to return wet supers with drawn comb to the hive to give the bees a head start in spring.
Autumn is now here and as the sun rises lower in the skies so the afternoon shadows stretch longer and further, and the days grow shorter. My kitchen is overflowing with summer’s bounty of apples, plums and honey ready to make honeyed fruit crumbles and pies. Winter is coming so I’ll leave this memory of a playful calf frolicking at summer’s end.