Seamlessly we sweltered from June into July with a prolonged warm dry spell that children will remember in their adult years and adults will remember in their dotage. The dog days are truly here, sultry days and still nights of heat, drought, fires, thunderstorms, lethargy, mad dogs and Englishmen out in the sun. Even the birds seem to languish idly in the suspended in the humid air, barely moving their wings for flight, as if it’s too much effort. The buzzard is more present and seems to follow me; flying over the garden, perched atop his telegraph pole on the school run. Hot and hungry no doubt. Bees drop out of the sky exhausted. A little sugar water to revive them. The grass yellows, becks run dry. When the wind does blow, it whips up pollen and dust from the ground, grit in the eyes and stinging in the back of the throat. We await to see what weather St Swithin’s Day brings.
In the Gregorian calendar July is named after Julius Caesar and is the birth month of 3 out of 4 of our little family (although the youngest misses it by only a day, having her birthday on 30 June). It is a month of celebration for us, cakes, present, parties, feasts, friends and family. Flowers and flour decorate the kitchen. It means that life flares into moments of frenzy, hyped up excitement, punctuated by quiet moments of calm; picking the beans, shelling the peas, gathering the raspberries.
This is my favourite time of year, even if it means I age by a year. When life is all about the outside, even though all the outside seems to come inside! Including the very early alarm clock blackbird which must sit directly beneath our window each morning from dawn urging us to get up. We are off to Cornwall (lots of holiday spam heading your way) for an unprecedented three weeks so I have stopped planting anything new and I have no plans for the house or the garden. I will probably miss the best of the runner beans and my courgettes will be marrows, but I’m grateful to have had the bounty that I have so far; lettuce, cucumber, peas, broad beans, spring onions, rocket, kale, beetroot, carrots, nasturtiums and borage. Meanwhile the house comes into its own – cool and refreshing – a welcome break from the sun. And all the while I reminded why we made the move from London. Because there is no where else to be in weather like this than the English countryside.