Another summer’s promise almost gone

After a week away from it, I decided I would make the most of the early autumnal sunshine and walk down to the rough ground. I find September to be a melancholy time of year. The end of summer, impending winter, watching things die back. I used to dread the end of August. But in recent years, I’ve grown to embrace it. Not like it, just embrace it.

One advantage to shorter days is you get more time to catch up on any reading. I especially like reading books about natural history and reading about spring and summer flora and fauna leaves you looking forward to the new year, giving hope. Autumn and winter also help me to get out more, as strange as it sounds. The cold doesn’t bother me, it’s more the wet and grey that gets me down, so if there’s a sunny day, it’s a great chance to drop everything that can wait, and plan a last minute trip to the hills, lanes, rivers and fields.

I get reflective at this time of year. I used to get depressed that another summer had drifted by without much thought and appreciation but nowadays I’m not like that so much, probably because I do more things that fill my imagination and needs, things I love doing, so when August comes and goes and that fluttery panic feeling creeps in, I smack it back with memories of the past four months. Walks, runs, camping trips, time at the allotment. Basically, less time on the sofa, in front of the TV.

The rough ground looked different yesterday. It was bathed in sunshine. The greenery slowly turning yellow and red. I heard more birds, a couple of crickets and began looking at what trees grow there. I noted a few maples more than anything.

I started to imagine if I could take ownership of the rough ground. What would I do with it? Would I close it off and leave it to mother nature or actively manage it? I thought first and foremost that I’d manage it. Remove non-native trees and plants, and encourage young saplings to grow up to regenerate the area. I pretty much worked out that I was more or less taking things away, not adding anything, which sounds unproductive but in the long term, it’s adding new trees and plants. It’s hard to work out what is ‘natural’ for an inner city scrub. Invasive species thrive. Being near a river, in flood, seeds will wash up. Damp ground fauna will survive over ill-planted species. I did definitely decide to keep it as open access, I mean, what’s the point in creating an urban wild patch that no one can appreciate also? Other that the obvious litter problem and the burned out car, and trolleys, there’s no sign of vandalism. If I showed care for it, would other people? Would I even mention it to friends? I haven’t even told my friends about this blog.

 

 

 

Rough ground

I assume most people reading this (if any) work most of the day, most of the week, most of the year. Even so, if you don’t, the same applies. Today’s subject is about making the most of the outdoors and what is around you when it is not the weekend.

For me, I work on the northern edge of a major city. My office window looks out over a packed motorway, a grimy railway line and a busy main road. You can see houses, blocks of flats, Church spires, and trees. There is life out there. But city life is about hustle, bustle, money, short tempers and bleak views. That is, if you don’t actively look for the alternatives. I should point out that this window of mine isn’t mine at all – it’s behind me. Yes, I face the wall more or less. It just means I can’t watch the world go by, or the rain pour down, but it does mean I still get to appreciate the sun rolling in and the shadows it creates across the carpet.

It was earlier this week that I decided to explore a patch of land that I drive past every day. Well hidden, accessible yet still remote in a city. To give you an idea, it sits between a main road to its East, a motorway to its north (which actually goes over it via a flyover) and a river (also beneath the flyover). It is fairly overgrown and I can see signs of previous human habitation in the shape of old pavements and concrete, slowly being reclaimed by mother nature. Nearly every side is hidden from view by trees and shrubs. Behind some of this on the western edge, are houses. This place is not exactly a secret, more of a cut through for people going to the shops, or work.

Once I set foot on the path, I decided to stray from the main path straight away, cutting north-west down a track perhaps created by a fox or badger. I soon found myself amongst trees and very close to the flyover. My first thought was how loud it was, and how I couldn’t see or hear birds, or any sign of life for that matter. So I just stood still.

Seconds later, I heard the hum of a hoverfly. Then more. There were several busying themselves on the blackberry bushes, which still contain flowers.

After standing still for a few minutes, a quick glance at my watch told me it was time to get back to work. While walking back, I heard a brief but sweet chirp of a Great Tit (Parus Major). Not a rare species at all, but welcome in this urban pocket of forgotten greenery.

All of this was only a fifteen minute walk from my desk. If I lived here, I would disregard it. If it was under threat of development, I wouldn’t care either, but as I’m an out-of-towner, it would be a shame to lose it.