Baked

The last weeks of August sizzle.  Furnace days that pass like treacle.  Hottest days on record, air so close it’s hard to breathe.  Air so hot it’s impossible to get relief.  Sleepless nights.  Sticky, long days of hard brilliance.  August is stuck in amber: it seems it will never end.

But finally the amber cracks.  On the morning of the storm the world is damp with dew and the sun is a blazing orange balloon.  We know the storm is coming, but it isn’t until the hour before midnight that it appears.  Two booms of thunder and a neon flash herald its arrival.  The next crash envelops the house, as though giving birth to it.  Lightning flares every few seconds.  Thunder grumbles.  Rain hammers down.

In the morning the landscape is scoured clean.  Green is greener, more vivid after rain.  There is energy in the air.  In the deluge, autumn’s blooms have blossomed: a bouquet of fungi along the paths.  It has been a good summer for fungi, despite the heat.  There has been a bountiful harvest of field mushrooms in the park and a scattering of fairy rings.

A day after the storm, it is cool enough to walk the wagonway.  The hedgerows bulge with fruits.   Birds nests of wild carrot, fat with lilac seeds.   Horse chestnuts ripe with conkers, still encased in green.  Bushes full of blackberries.  The wind teases willowherb seeds from their stalks so that I walk through drifts of down.  I hear the steam train chug and whistle down the nearby museum track.

The flowers are few now: a clump of willowherbs here, ragworts there, clusters of fleabane and sow thistles.  Insects jostle for space on those blooms that remain: hoverflies, bees and flies, speckled wood butterflies.  Dragonflies dart across the path moving between ponds and patches of damp ground.   There is still little evidence of birds: a couple of wood pigeons, the song of a robin and the twittering of a few hidden blue tits.

In the dene, it already seems like autumn.  The avenue of lindens has released a drift of tawny flower casings that look like heaps of autumn leaves.  August is finally over and the scent of a new season is in the air.

I was introduced to the wonderful book Saxon’s Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion some time ago and I was thrilled to see he was crowdfunding to publish his next novel Draca through Unbound.  The book is about a former Royal Marine haunted by his past and possibly by the old boat left to him by his grandfather.  Half of the profits will go to the veteran’s charity Combat Stress.  Geoff has been offered a great opportunity to promote the book at a festival alongside a ‘household TV name’ if it is published in time.  Pledges are currently at 89% but he only has two weeks to reach 100% if he is to get the opportunity.  That’s only 60 books, so please consider pledging to enjoy what I expect will be a great read and to help out combat veterans too!  You can find out more here.

107 thoughts on “Baked

  1. I love the lyricism and beauty of this posting. It reads more like poetry than prose. The book review and info about the author is also fascinating. Hope you have a fantastic fall. We are in meteorological fall as of yesterday, not that that means anything except to the weather prognosticators.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Andrea, you have such a gift. I felt the thunder, and almost expected to have spots in front of my eyes from the lightning. I loved seeing the photos of all the plants and mushrooms too.
    There has been more rain than I expected since my move to the high desert. Climate change… But of course it is welcome.
    Thank you for another beautiful post. Best wishes to Geoffrey and this most worthy cause — and on his new book.
    Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seems you had a more dramatic August than us. And there’s scarce a sight of fungi along my walks. But wild carrot, yea, along Breydon’s edge. I love that plant, so sculptural. And you picture it so well.
    So what will autumn bring? So far, we have shrubs heavy with berries.

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  4. Andrea, you are writing this post so beautifully in poetic prose. At first I thought you were writing a poem.
    Your walk through the landscape so near, so real, I am there.
    Every word and picture counts, are alive.

    As we have had the same climate here in the South I know how heavy it
    has felt and how lifegiving the rain and thunder was.

    Miriam

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  5. I don’t think I could find a more on point description of that kind of relentless heat. Although we had a week of horrendous heat here in July (96˚ the high) vs. August, I sure know that feeling. And there is nothing like a storm or cooling rain to usher it out. Fall is so welcome.
    What kind of bee is that on the yellow flowers? They’re too pudgy for yellow jackets or wasps (I think.). Thanks as always, for a walk through nature.

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  6. Always a delightful read, Andrea. I, for one, am not sad to see August go. Cooler weather and colourful leaves are within reach and I am very happy for it.
    Have a lovely day! Oh way… itès already evening where you are!

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  7. It’s always such a sweet relief after a storm after it’s been so hot out. Beautiful pictures and musings/observations from your walk, and lovely writing, as always, Andrea.

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  8. I am always moved by your prose poetry. I hear the thunder, I see the greening after the rain. It resonates as you describe what we have just experienced here – scorching days and now relief as fall beckons. We are used to it. Yet I still experience a bit of culture shock in the dogs days of summer and during the arctic days of winter. Imagine going from minus 40 degrees Celsius to plus 40 degrees Celsius all in one brief year. Oh, the wonder of it!

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  9. Beautiful writing as ever, Andrea. You also manage to get such lovely photographs of your surroundings and the plants you see. We have the cooler weather but have had no rain so far and we desperately need it.

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  10. Ah, the relief of the storm! I think September is my favourite month. Things start to arrive in September I find – like ideas. I went for walk in my local park and during the night the beginnings of a circus had appeared and the marking out of where the big top would be. Perfect metaphor for September!

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  11. We have had a spectacular summer haven’t we Andrea.. Hot, humid some days, and yes those Lightning flashes, like I have never seen before.. Changes in the air,..
    Loved your narrative throughout your pictorial delights of natures hedgerows of flora and fauna,
    Nothing more cleansing that a storm, or walking in the freshness it leaves in its wake..

    Beautiful Andrea.. thank you for sharing.. ❤

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  12. August has been so cool here, thanks to the rains. But the heat you describe is what we get in October – relentless. Love the description of the blooms after the showers and the pictures that go with it.

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  13. I’m enjoying the transition from summer to autumn here, but with it comes a crazy-busy schedule and I am having a hard time keeping up! The book Draca sounds really good, and I love that it is for a good cause. Have a beautiful day!

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  14. I love my trail travels with you, Andrea. Ah, your way with words! You make August sound lovely. And August is not so lovely to me. But you are right: August was stuck in amber! And now September seems stuck, too. Although it was only 83 today. Autumn is peeking around the corner. Beautiful photos.

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  15. Such a beautiful transition story, Andrea. Love the mushroom bouquet. I think they are edible. Once a year I go mushroom picking and make a September meal – fried mushrooms and onions, and new boiled potatoes, all topped with a good spoon of sour cream.
    I too find a lot of energy in September. It is an energetic, generous, delicious and colorful month 🙂

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  16. Our glorious summer has ended abruptly with November-like rain lashing us from all sides…during a brief sunny respite, I headed out for a walk through the forest down to the beach revelling in the fall scent in the air. Your lovely summer words remind me of what is passing, it’s time for all that is young and beautiful to grow or go to sleep…

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  17. I love those fungi. I’ve not seen many where I live, due to a combination of chalk soil, heat, and very little rain. By the way, I just checked out Geoffrey’s page on the Unbound site and pledges have now reached 101% for Draco. I was hoping to come in at the last moment with a pledge, but have had too many unexpected expenses lately, mostly medical — optician, dentist, vet etc, etc. Anyway, I still hope to acquire a paper copy of the book if it continues to be available, which hopefully it will. Not sure how Unbound works re second print runs. I’m guessing a whole load more pledges would be required. Like you, I loved his novel, Saxon’s Bane. In fact my whole family read it and loved it, which is very unusual!

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    • It does seem to have been pretty dry all around lately, I’m longing for some more rain! It’s great news that Draco is over 100%, it was actually you who introduced me to Geoff – I think he might have been one of your guest storytellers, and then I loved Saxon’s Bane when I read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. The blooms of late summer/early autumn are so special. Nature’s way of saying “It’s not yet time to give up on beginnings”. Rich words and photos, as usual, Andrea. Enjoy these last few days of summer.

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  19. Hello, Andrea. Today (Saturday) we put the covers on the benches, ready for Winter. It was quite a slap in the face; it was the equivalent to someone placing their on my shoulders and shaking me, saying, “Helloooo, wake up, this is happening.” But, fortunately for me, your beautiful piece turned back time and softened the blow of Summer’s good-bye. Thank you, and as always, Best wishes.

    Mick.

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  20. September is the turning point here as well, Andrea. The Swallows have left the stables, and no longer return on an evening to roost. Sadly, we lose so much at this time of year, but, on the other hand, we gain so much. I’m not going to try to hold onto summer this year, I’m going to let it go, and concentrate on the future, rather than hang onto the past.
    The more effort that we make now, the smoother and more enjoyable the ride ahead. But as the last threads of summer slip through our fingers, I shall remember to stop and smell the roses.
    Enjoy your Autumn Andrea.
    Mick.

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  21. When I read you, I feel like I’m reading Mary Oliver. Only, she tends to be more metaphysical and you’re more lyrical. I especially liked “But finally the amber cracks. On the morning of the storm the world is damp with dew and the sun is a blazing orange balloon”

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