Tuesday, 1 November 2016

November 1st: " Some are weather-wise, some are other-wise."*

"All Saints' Day, at the beginning of November, often marks a dramatic change in the weather, as the last traces of summer finally fade, and the true character of autumn is revealed.  Some years this is marked by hard frosts, but our unpredictable climate means that dank, wet weather is equally likely.

Channel  Neil Murison   Royal West of England Academy  © the artist

When the Atlantic weather systems dominate, wave after wave of depressions sweep across that vast ocean, and funnel up the Bristol Channel, bringing more rain to an already sodden landscape.  The ground soaks up the extra water for a while, but as the weeks go by the roads are awash with muddy puddles, while little pools begin to form on the fields.  Day after day, the west wind whips across this flat, open land, battering the stunted trees and hedges into submission."

Black Wing  Peter Lanyon   British Council collection  © Sheila Lanyon

And later in the month:    "….a crow sounds a high-pitched cry of alarm.  A small taut shape shoots out of the hawthorn hedgerow: a male sparrow hawk, twisting and turning in pursuit of a bird not much smaller than he is; his T-shaped silhouette shooting low across the landscape as clouds of birds panic in the skies above.
A few minutes later, the sparrow hawk has moved on, and the fieldfares settled back into the topmost twigs of the hawthorns,  A constant, soft chattering sound fills the air, as if they are discussing the event I have just witnessed.  Fanciful, I know, but this murmur of sound is clearly a response to the passing of the predator.

The more time I spend in the parish, the more I become sensitive to these subtle changes in sight and sound.  This is a skill all naturalists pick up over the years, but it is heightened on my journey through time and seasons in the same, small, enclosed space.  It goes much deeper than mere knowledge; and almost feels as if I am becoming part of the landscape and its wildlife.  I find it comforting to know that as I get older, and my physical horizons begin to diminish, I shall never get bored with what I see, hear and find in this country parish."

Wild Hares and Hummingbirds  Stephen Moss

* from Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac

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