An English summer day can be a joy to behold, or it can be a a disasterous mix of rain, grey skudding clouds, cold and miserable. True it doesn’t get that bad too often, but due to the intervention of the North Atlantic Jet Stream, preventing high pressure systems from the south or the general ebb and flow of weather from the west, an English summer day is unpredictable.
The summer of 2016 has had its share of changeable weather. June, for example, had very heavy rain at times. August was changeable, not as awful as the continuous rain and storms of the 1960’s, but enough to take the edge off of some holiday plans. High mackerel clouds heralded a change in the weather from the west and on 5th August. Summer was not to be denied.
Since February I had occasionally walked a tractor track along the edge of a field about a mile or so from my home in the ancient capital city of Winchester. ( Had the tracks not been there, I would not has crossed the field, but taken another route ). Over the months as spring warmed up the ground, green stalks began to rise upwards, getting longer every few weeks or so. My final walk along the tracks made some years ago and where nothing grew, was sublime. The entire field was a joy to behold. So quintessentially English, it was a rare privilege money just could not buy. It was a Laurie Lee, special day. The day grew hot, light clouds drifted overhead and beyond the hedge, the vista towards the village of Sparsholt could not be bettered.
It was one of those rare occasions, with nature at full throttle. Bees visiting hedge-row blooms. The first Horse Chestnut had fallen from above, too early yet to burst open. A few, slowly browning leaves were appearing. Swallows wheeling through the air, dining on insects, would soon begin departing these shores for hot African skies.
Unlike the rice harvest on my parents-in-law’s rice field 6,000 miles away in Thailand, which is still harvested mainly by hand, these Hampshire fields would all be cut mechanically.
Just slowly walking along this pathway between the nodding heads of corn, bursting with ripe goodness, was a moment to be savoured and remembered in the shortening days, edging their way towards Autumn. It was the high spot of the year and would soon be but a memory. It was the day time stood still. The ground having yielded up its goodness, would lie fallow awaiting the shifting of the winds round to the north.
It was a classic UK August summer day to remember