Weather forecasters start liberally sprinkling their reports with the word autumnal
quite early into August in this country but the leaves are still pretty green, we haven’t had a frost yet and the narrow roads are still very much clogged with the enormous camper vans that summer holiday tourists deem the best way to see the countryside so sadly actual autumn as opposed to London media autumn remains a couple of weeks away but if you get out early enough, go high enough and breath deeply enough you can just detect that dampness in the air and its alluring promise of quiet roads, silent fells and cyclists once more being the same colour all over their body.
what the heck, they’ll all be over in a week. This is a little wood above the road through the dale, just catching the early morning light for the benefit of folks on bikes who can see over the bank and who don’t sleep much.
Sorry, more bluebells I’m afraid, but in my defence it is kind of a special time of year, there seems to be a better than average spread of these this spring, there are few things to lift an English person’s heart as much as a bluebell wood in May and I’ve been stuck indoors all week so staggering out blinking in to the early morning sunlight today is like coming up for air.
There isn’t really a single event which allows you to know that spring has come to the dale, not the movable diary date of Easter nor even the more well rooted May Day weekend just gone; not the sudden population of long empty farmers’ road side meadows with tents and awnings and lines of drying walking socks, nor the quiet roads of winter filling with bumbling roof-box bearing drivers ill suited to anything with less than six lanes and an electronic overhead gantry every hundred metres telling them what to do; not the appearance of coal faced lambs in the fields, nor the curlews and lapwings moving from their winter valley bottom assemblies to stake out nesting territories on the tops; not the first swallow darting in front of a bike wheel on a stone bridge beck crossing nor even the first swifts, arrived just today, and their screeching collective high speed aerobatics above the evening river; not the acres of wood anemones carpeting the bare woodland floors, nor the white blossom of the blackthorn, nor, even, the river bank bluebells; and when you emerge blinking bleary hibernation eyed into the weekend when April turns to May to be met with a February wind and it’s equally welcome overstayed snow still lying white on the fells no combination of any of these things can easily convince you that it’s here yet but I rode my bike with bare arms and legs last night so whatever the meteorological facts of the matter might be I’ve decided spring has now arrived, somewhere between about eight and eight thirty yesterday evening if you need the detail. It was slightly unexpected although maybe not for want of efforts to announce itself and not for having not turned up at a similar kind of time in at least some prior years, so we didn’t even have kettle on or get the nice crockery out or anything but hopefully we’ll be paying more attention next time and the panicked ‘are you sure it’s today?!’ scrolling through diaries when the doorbell rings can be avoided.