Thursday, 9 June 2011

Signs of the times: Autumn #13

More comparisons between the British countryside of today and that from 1959-1961 in the paintings of Charles Tunnicliffe in the Ladybird "What to look for..." series of books.

"Then the sudden rush
Of the rain, and the riot
Of the shrieking, tearing gale
Breaks loose in the night,
With a fusillade of hail!
Hear the forest fight,
With its tossing arms that crack and clash
In the thunder's cannonade,
While the lightning's forked flash
Brings the old hero-trees to the ground with a crash!
Hear the breakers' deepening roar,
Driven like a herd of cattle
In the wild stampede of battle,
Trampling, trampling, trampling, to overwhelm the shore!"

Henry Van Dyke (from: "Storm-Music")


(Copyright: Ladybird Books)

Autumn Picture 13

Well, when I started this set of blog posts on these Ladybird books, I had rather hoped to be able to keep pace with the four seasons as I progressed through the four books, starting with Spring. Clearly, although I managed this for Spring and largely for the Summer book, the timetable went out of the window when I was busy in the Autumn. So, here we are, in June and I’m writing about Autumn. Never mind, I hope you are still enjoying these posts regardless of what it looks like outside your window. I will be satisfied if I finish the series in the 50 year time window since the books were published, which was 2009-2011. That means I have the rest of the year to finish the second half of the autumn book and the Winter volume. On, on...

Here’s a wild picture. Until last month’s unprecedented extreme weather conditions in Scotland, I would have said it seems a bit odd to be writing about wild Autumn weather in June but hey ho... Here, a herd of young cows are sheltering behind a high hedge from a gale and lashing rain. Some starlings and magpies are sheltering as best they can behind the cattle. Growing under a fallen, broken tree, there are some puffballs. The only part of this scene that you couldn’t have found here last week was the puffballs – it’s a bit early for those in June! But hey, this is supposed to be a picture from Autumn. In fact, as far as the theme of these posts goes, comparing our natural history today with that displayed in paintings from 50 years ago, I don’t have much to say for this one. I’ve already covered starlings here and magpies here and, as I’ve said elsewhere in these Autumn posts, we actually don’t have good information on the changes in the distribution of many of our native fungi over time, even the relatively large ones like puffballs.

Having lived in the Stirling area for 22 years, I’ve seen many little puffballs around here, but never a giant puffball, the edible (in fact, gourmet) giant puffball beloved of gourmands, and delicious when sliced and fried; until last Autumn that is, when O and I were walking near Dunblane and found the shattered and largely decomposed remains of a giant puffball, but which was still capable of producing clouds of spores. So we took some pieces and scattered them along the edge of the field we found it in and, from late summer, we will start checking for signs of growth, just in case!

1 comment:

  1. You're right SNB it doesn't seem strange at all to be talking about Autumn at this time of yoear somehow.

    Giant puffball....... sound yummy!

    nice to see you posting again. Hopefully that means things are a bit less hectic. Maybe one day you would be able to join your wee brother and I for a drink and a chat.



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