22 September 2019

Well, I certainly can’t fault the weather forecasters. For a week, they’ve been predicting today, the last full day of summer, would be dreadful. A distant rumble of thunder followed by a heavy downpour before breakfast. Muggy showers interspersed with muggy mist throughout the day. Lights on at noon. The perfect sort of weather for enjoying Mark Cocker’s latest, A Claxton Diary: short snatches of nature writing in the form of a diary. I wonder if it’s a format that will ever catch on.

As I headed out for the Sunday paper, I was pleased to see our hawthorn hedge loaded with red berries. It’s only a hedge in theory; in reality, it’s a line of trees which has got out of hand. Someone really ought to do something, but I fear it might be too late for hedge-laying. The trees in our ‘hedge’ began life as bird-seeded saplings that took root in various unwise places in our garden. Whenever I came across one, I dug it up, roots and all, and transplanted it in our proto-hedge. Then I forgot all about them and Nature took over.

Hawthorn hedge

We took a quick walk around the lanes mid-afternoon. The views were non-existent, and everything felt clammy. Rooks perched on power lines, looking miserable. A tractor was spreading muck on the fields, its distant chugs dampened by the damp. Dreich, the Scots would call it: a word I always assume, no doubt incorrectly, must be a portmanteau of dreary and bleak. And then an incongruous treat: a blaze of light at the side of the track, a white foxglove in full flower. You’re leaving it a little late, my friend.

Dreich weather
Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
Buy my book: On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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