Gorffenaf is the Welsh name for July. It is a contraction of ‘Gorffen’ meaning finish and ‘Haf’ meaning summer which always seemed a bit premature to me! With schools usually not breaking up for the summer holidays until the end of the month Early August is when the holiday season starts for many of us. But this year it seems to truly be the last month of high summer.
Whilst walking the dogs I have spotted blackberries ripening in the most sheltered spots in the hedgerows. Rowanberries are taking on their colour too and there should be a bumper crop of both. I am really relieved to see them since my strawberries and raspberries were disappointing – the unusually long, hot, dry spell meant small, rather hard fruit. (I had stored plenty of rainwater for a ‘normal’ summer but even limiting watering to precious plants in the greenhouses ran out and had to use some metered water but could not afford to use it outside. (For those of you living outside the UK the system used to be that we paid a tax (rates) to the local authority which included the cost of our water however much or little we used. Now, increasingly, properties have a meter on the incoming mains and pay a fixed charge for the supply plus an amount for each cubic meter used. I opted to have a meter installed to make me more aware of using treated tap water only when I really need it – and it has worked! But having failed to anticipate this summer’s demand for water in the garden I had to live with the consequences. )
A few days ago my neighbour, Beccy, gave me some mushrooms she had picked in one of their fields and invited me to go and pick more if I wanted them. So another friend, Jeni, and I had a lovely walk one bright breezy morning following the cow tracks to the most prolific field to pick baskets full. I dried most of mine to store them for winter dishes. There is something magical about seeing jars of produce on the shelf to keep me fed through the less productive months. Though someone must have thought they had too much of a good thing! These wannabe marrows were left on the verge at a crossroads!
Then last night I saw that the bird cherry tree on the drive was beginning to shed its leaves – bright golden confetti at my feet. Truly Summer is coming to an end and Autumn beginning.