This weather is fabulous. I don’t have to pack the children out with coats, wellies, waterproofs, sixteen jumpers, spare underwear for when they get soaked to the skin… I can barely remember the last time we had unbroken summer weather like this. In the woods, it is wonderful. The shade of the trees protects us from overheating; we can just enjoy being outdoors without being glued to the weather forecast, trying to make the most of each little window of not-rain.
The wildlife in the wood also seems to be enjoying the weather. Food for young birds appears to be abundant and butterflies are basking in sunlit clearings. Honeysuckle blooms and the insect life is thriving in all the wood’s habitats. I startled a little roe fawn – it startled me too as it leapt up and wobbled off through the wood – but it has to be more comfortable to snuggle down in a dry warm dell to wait for Mum, rather than a dripping wet, muddy hollow. The red deer appear periodically – Amos who had run ahead came racing back down the path recently to tell us of the close encounter he had with a red deer. It was so rewarding to see the excitement in his face.
The badgers seem to have decided on complete occupation of the wood. Old sets, that had been destroyed before we became owners, are being re-dug. I’ve been badger watching a couple of times over the last week and it seems family groups have spread out, probably moving around between different sleeping chambers every few days. Although the weather is dry, badger digging (which has become more prolific), is still through damp soil, the canopy protecting the wood floor from much of the direct heat. I hope that means there are still enough earthworms for all the badgers. The latrines are certainly spreading!
My walk up to the woods each day takes me past hedgerows full of wild flowers; dog rose, red and white clover, vetches in purples and yellows, bloody crane’s bill, hedge woundwort and more. They stud the green with bursts of colour, and it is not only I who stops to look. Insects rest on the leaves and flowers – long horn bettles, bees, damsel flies, butterflies, hoverflies, dragonflies – all adding their character to the flowers, drawing attention down to the detail of each bloom. My eye then begins to focus on these frequently seen flowers and I see the delicacy and beauty I often forget to notice.
The nights have shrunk to a blink. I love the sense of endlessness in these warm days. I know, when winter comes, I will find it hard to truly remember this feeling, so I, and I think the woods too, make the most of the summer while we have it.
Footnote: It is hard to chose one photograph for each blog I write, but I know extra pictures make blog pages slow to download. I post a photograph every day on Instagram (@treesofsanctuary) which can also be viewed in the right hand column of this website (www.treesofsanctuary.com), and on Twitter (@Peaceinthewood). Many of the photographs recently have been of the flowers and insects mentioned above.