I took a stroll along our lane this afternoon. The gloomy morning sloped off after lunch to be replaced by a raw heat that churned the sky milk-blue and rinsed vibrancy from the vegetation.
Beyond a row of silent ash trees, the lane rolled steeply downhill, whereby the dry stone walls were exchanged for open swathes of rough grassland that had been left to run feral over the spring and summer months; umbels of caramel atop brittle stems, were interspersed by a tangled mass of grasses. This impenetrable forest undulated above and below eye-level, in accordance with the landform beneath.
As I walked, the scent of warm hay crashed around me – sweet fragrance of nostalgia – whilst a distant chiffchaff maintained a repetitive serenade from a bank of ash and birch; an elusive bird, the chiffchaff’s clear call made all the more beguiling by its shyness.
Grasshoppers added to the day’s celebration with their distinctive background chirr, which vibrated the air on all sides and was almost overwhelming in its yellow intensity, whilst creeping thistles punctuated the verge at intervals, their purple flower heads proving irresistible to a myriad of bumblebees.
Deep amongst the long blades there was a flicker of movement. As my eyes honed in, I saw endless numbers of meadow brown butterflies pirouetting around the stems of common couch grass, Timothy, false oat-grass and cocksfoot – dizzying to watch as they ceaselessly chased one another.
In the foreground an occasional speckled wood butterfly tripped its way along the margin and as I continued, the burnt orange wings of a gatekeeper drew my attention to a patch of bramble, where it delicately rippled across the surface.
Nearing the bottom of the hill, the chiffchaff’s resilient call was joined by a dunnock alighting on a fence post. Beneath its perch, a wasp busied itself stripping away wood for its nest, whilst a large white butterfly flew purposefully over the tops of the vegetation and out of sight.
At the base of the slope, the grassland gave way to a dark tunnel of trees; at its cusp, a muddle of green nettles spread across the verge, adorned by the crenulated outline of a comma butterfly – its wings open to the sunlight in an opulent display of tangerine.