There’s something exuberant about the blooms of August. As though summer, knowing it is on its last legs, throws all its efforts into a medley of colour before its time is over. It is the season of vivid purples and zesty yellows: great tangles of willowherbs, thistles and buddleia bordering knots of ragwort, great mullein and weld. And the lush white bindweed trumpets creeping nefariously over them all.
Nowhere is this more obvious than along the tracks. This is railway country, the place where the ‘father of the railways’ was born. George Stephenson built his first locomotive to transport coal down these tracks. The county is scored with the remains of the old lines, waggon-ways that ferried coal from the Great Northern Coalfield to the river Tyne. It was first carried on wooden tracks in horse-drawn carts, then on metal rails by stationary steam engines hauled by ropes and finally by steam locomotive.
These days, no locomotives pass this way, except perhaps in dreams in the dead of night. The rails are long gone, replaced by paths. Lined with hawthorn hedges, abundant in wild flowers. Birds, hares and other creatures inhabit these tracks now, burrowing into the banks and flitting through the hedges. Whereas once they were noisy with heavy industry, now they are peaceful trails in the midst of towns.
In this topsy turvy and unsettled year, my creativity hasn’t followed its usual path. I struggled to feel the celebration of summer and bring my box of dreams to fruition. Yet something strange has happened in the last few weeks. When I venture out, all I see is potential. Fat, glossy rosehips, scores of blackberries, elderberries and haws. Most still green, some beginning to turn, but only the potential of what they will become. And my creative energy has suddenly revived: I find myself fervently writing, reading and submitting before the final harvest comes. Like summer, I am giving the season my best efforts before the autumn tide takes over.