The Woods in August

August woods

August woods

Today, when I took my dog for her daily walk in the local woods, I was very aware that change was in the air. The woods seemed to be waiting for something, and holding their breath.

They are, of course, waiting for the autumn. It’s almost as though they are keeping still and quiet in the hope that winter might pass them by this time.

For the last few days, we have caught the tail-end of Hurricane Bertha, so the woods have been hammered by strong winds and heavy rain, so perhaps they are just having a well-earned rest after the storm.

The stinging nettles are now too high, and they’ve been smashed around. It would be nice, perhaps, to indulge in some schadenfreude here, imagining that this serves them right for all those stingson my hands this summer, but, actually, they are far more hazardous for the blind walker on the edge of the soup plate, because now they bend over the paths drunkenly, and wave themselves about at face level.

Apart from the vociferous crow family – the crow, the jackdaw and the magpie – the birds are generally quiet. They seem too busy feeding young and teaching them to fly and recognise predators to waste time in defending territory or showing off to the girls. They need to start piling on the weight for the winter.

I still know they’re around, because I hear their little contact calls in the trees all around me.

There seems to be little colour, except the dull, tired green that is everywhere. The only flower worth mentioning is along the river, the much-maligned Himalayan Balsam.

The way people talk about it, you would assume it is a triffid, or an eastern European  immigrant, set on destroying our English flowers and our English culture of delicate, unassuming primroses (the key to their English nature is in the name). But, if you look at it before you pull it up, it is really quite a pretty flower. And the bees love it.

Just as with human beings, there have been numberless waves of alien plants in this country. Just about all our trees are aliens. Even the snowdrop is a garden escape, and came from Turkey only a couple of hundred years ago. In my lifetime, there have been panics about ragwort, sycamore, hogweed, Japanese knotweed, the list will go on.

Before Dutch elm disease wiped it out, even the majestic elm was despised as “the Warwickshire weed”.

So, balsam will find its place and its predators. It will take time, but if Natures got an abundance of anything, Time is it.

August 2014

August 2014


About stevehobsonauthor

I am blind, and I hate it. It stinks. But life is still sweet. I have multiple sclerosis, and that stinks too, but life is still sweet. These are my musings.
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4 Responses to The Woods in August

  1. Brian Toberman says:

    Hi Steve Just been out for a walk in the woods with Bella. Even though I’ve spent some time stopping a garden invasion of Balsalm I know what you mean. It is very pretty, like massive snap dragons and exciting. I love the way it canons out it’s seeds. When I travelled through the Himalayas the really successful plant was hemp, huge, potent and growing everywhere. I managed to pick some in a petrol station and get stoned on the spot!. That would have been a more useful invasion! Sorry I missed you last week. Have been down to London to help Alice get organised for her move to Spain then to Kendal to see the bump. Hannah doing fine but a bit stressed. Seem to remember that it suddenly hits you that babies are for life not just for Christmas and you don’t really know anything about them. Bit like dogs really! Meant lots of time spent with Claire. We get on pretty well now, but it only takes five minutes to remember why we don’t spend our lives together any more! I’m off to last festival of the summer at Towersey on Thurs so probably won’t get to se you next week. Home for three weeks then before setting off to Barcelona with Alice’s winter clothes. Looking forward to that, should get some late summer sun. Will call next week Love Brian Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:23:02 +0000 To:


  2. Esme says:

    I remember the long walk along the river when we went to “The Bungalow” at Newtown Lindford. The edges of the path were covered with white starry flowers and the strong smell of garlic was in the air. I loved that smell. It was inextricably linked to the dank, shadowy path beside the tumbling river and my childhood. Whenever I smell it now it reminds me of then. I understand that our sense of smell is the first of the 5 senses to develop and the last one to go so, whatever happens, I shall always be able to smell the wild garlic in my head. Esme


    • I remember the garlic very well. Its scent is very evocative, and, im fact, turns up in two of my poems. The other memories of the ‘bungalw’ were having to cut bacmk the nettles every time we went there, and getting our water from the spring under the wooden boards in the wood. Lovely times.


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