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damp August days

August 19, 2011

What a washout. We have barely seen the sun this month. It teases us with the occasional bright early morning or warm afternoon, only to disappear behind the clouds again just as we are thinking it might be worth taking off our cardie. The whole summer has been unusually wet in Britain, and Perthshire may have been the wettest area of all. According to a report in our local paper today (Fri 19 August), a weather station in Aberfeldy, Highland Perthshire, measured 207.6mm (8.2in) rainfall in July, more than anywhere else in the UK. It is even wetter than Wales, for goodness’ sake. An unprecedented 65mm (2.5in) fell in Aberfeldy in just one day in June. We are not supposed to have a monsoon season in Scotland!

Looking on the bright side, though, this is good weather for herons. Our wee lochan has flooded to almost twice its usual size, which is lovely for water-birds.

This morning, I saw three herons standing in the boggy grass beside the lochan. Two were hunched by the fence, grey and dour-shouldered. One flapped about the field like an old raincoat on a wire coathanger. A flock of young pheasants picked their way cautiously around the herons, eyeing them from a safe distance: the herons did not deign to pay them the slightest attention. Too busy looking for frogs, I suppose.

It seems to be good weather for fungi, too. September is usually the peak of the fungi season, but I have been noticing umpteen varieties over the past month. We have a giant puffball again,

as well as all sorts of brownish varieties to which I cannot put a name.

Then there are the stinkhorns. You can smell these before you see them: they reek of rotting flesh. (Flies love them.) And they look…well…even the dogs seem startled by them.

This year we had a whole bank of them. It was rather unnerving, seeing thirty or forty glistening, stinking white phalluses poking up from the soil. Their pomp doesn’t last long, however: a day or less, then they are spent. There’s a moral here somewhere – or at least a dirty joke.

Right, well, moving on – she says brightly – there are plenty of late summer flowers to be seen, despite the rain. A patch of poppies is blooming joyfully on the waste ground beside the compost heap, having been evicted from the walled garden,

and the thistles are at their best just now.

A few dog roses are still in flower, although most are developing into hips already,

And foxgloves wave from the gorsy banks.

In the garden, where I am struggling to keep up with the bounty of lettuce and courgettes (zucchini), the wasps are glutting themselves on the last of the raspberries.

So all in all, there is plenty to enjoy for all of us. On reflection, perhaps I don’t mind the rain too much after all.

You might enjoy Midsummer, allegedly about the weather, and Oak trees, pheasants and rural traffic jams about the August release of the young pheasants.

The best description of a heron that I have ever read is in a poem by Kenneth Steven, a Perthshire author. You can find it in his beautiful collection Wild Horses. If you like Dancing Beastie, I think you’d love Kenneth’s poems.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. hmunro permalink
    August 19, 2011 8:38 pm

    It’s wetter in Aberfeldy than in *Wales*? Isn’t that one of the signs of the Apocalypse?! Leave it to you to find the bright side, DB, amid the wildlife sightings and the flowers and the exotic fungi (I’ll have to email you about that last category!). Thanks for yet another lovely, thoughtful post.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 19, 2011 10:51 pm

      *I know!!* Totally! Still, Wales is probably glad to have a season off being the wettest place in Britain. (Thinks, I wonder if that means we have more stinkhorns than them this summer, too…) 😉

  2. August 20, 2011 5:43 pm

    We’ve had quite a good August on this side of Scotland – at least compared to the last couple of years. Makes a change for the east to be wetter than the west (or to seem that way anyway!)

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 20, 2011 9:41 pm

      It certainly does seem strange for the east to be wetter. I would be envious, but I can’t begrudge Renfrewshire some decent summer weather!

  3. August 22, 2011 2:03 am

    2 weeks and I will be in Scotland. Looks like rain boots and jacket should be packed! I hope the thistle stays a little longer. I’ll just enjoy the pics of your fungi. I’m glad this is not smell-net! I will be @ Perth Theater seeing Doorways in Drumorty September 14. Would you and the hubby like to go? My treat. See, now I’m done to bribery in order to meet you. email if you are interested. I will gladly pay your tickets.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 26, 2011 4:44 pm

      Thank you for a very generous invitation, Julia, and I’m sorry that we won’t be able to join you on this occasion. I wish you a wonderful trip!

  4. August 22, 2011 3:46 pm

    I’m so glad I found your blog – makes me feel all patriotic and fuzzy!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 26, 2011 4:44 pm

      Aw, bless. Thank you! 🙂

  5. August 23, 2011 10:51 am

    Courage Dancing Beastie!
    The sun is sneaking through the clouds and I have managed to get a load of washing out on the line today. I have great hopes for the haymaking….which is me trying to join in with harvest time by collecting the now dry-ish grass clippings from the strimming it received, when it was too wet to mow. I will be using the mower as a hoover…

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 26, 2011 4:45 pm

      Good luck with your haymaking! I see the harvest has started around us, so I hope we don’t get too many downpours this week.

  6. August 25, 2011 6:06 pm

    I absolutely love the descripton of a heron as an old raincoat on a hanger, and those ‘dirty joke’ mushrooms made me laugh out loud. Our summer has been wetter than normal, too. We still have snow in the higher elevations which is really unusual. And this morning I had to light a lamp for the first time in weeks. Shorter days…

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 26, 2011 4:49 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it, Lisa! I get the impression that you have had the sort of year that we had last year, when the snow lingered in the Cairngorms until after midsummer. When you consider that there are few mountains over 3000 feet in Scotland, you get the idea of what a cold year it was. This year has just been wet, wet, wet…it actually makes me look forward to autumn and log fires and lamplight.

  7. October 23, 2011 6:34 pm

    it sounds even wetter than it was in Normandy, DB, and that’s saying something. We had fungi from early July onwards – never seen them so early before.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 24, 2011 11:37 pm

      I think we’ve had fungi all through the year here this year!

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