Thoughts in June

Buttercup with Oedemera nobilisOut and about with Zeb and Lulu there are buttercups everywhere, pale pink wild roses and hawthorn blooming, clover and hogweed, dandelions and buttercups, the usual parade of summer white frothy stuff and yellow frothy stuff in the parks and meadows, the bluebells were very early this year and the wild garlic has vanished back underground once more. The leaves are becoming less translucent and more opaque by the day as the tenderness of May gives way to the humidity and high sun of June.

Another rose

Our cities may overrun the countryside and even though we live in an extremely built up little corner of the world, still the seasons change, the days lengthen and shorten. A plant, a colour, a scent of wild blossom sidling past on an abrupt breeze triggers all sorts of memories in this intense Spring month, heady with desire and passion yet tempered with sorrow for people who are bereaved or suffering.

Bee, Angelica, Pots and Seedlings

Bee, Angelica, Pots and Seedlings

As one gets older, one’s personal diary of memorable dates gets ever fuller with birthdays and deathdays. Sometimes it seems as if every day is a day of Remembrance; and I yearn wistfully for the days when June simply meant that you didn’t have to wear a coat to school and you could stay up later and play longer outside as no one had noticed that really it was past bedtime.

Ladybird Eggs

The above photo is a row of ladybird eggs, shiny and ovoid. I watched the parent set these on the underside of this garden frame;  by the time I came back with my camera, she had gone and was resting on a piece of old wood nearby.

Ladybird on wood

In June in the Northern Hemisphere the nights are short and the days are elongated, drawn out on a blackbird’s song.  In our suburban garden Mr Blackbird is ever delighted when one of us cuts the grass, making it easy for him and Mrs Blackbird to root up worms.

Acer seed and in flower

Mr Blackbird’s delight in bathing in the bird spa overrides his anxieties about marauding sparrowhawks and amoral chick-snatching cats, and he still finds time to throw the water everywhere in a flurry of black feathers and sparkling drops and it is enchanting to watch.

Poppy

Today however, he is perfecting his cross garden dive and swoop, I think he is modelling himself on Tom Cruise in his youth. His two babies are out and about in the garden and finding the big world a bit exciting. One of them found the spa, perched on the edge contemplating its inch of water with total fascination for about five minutes and then plumped down exhausted after all that thinking.

Fledgling Blackbird

Mr Blackbird is extra vigilant, singing triumphantly from the spine of the garage roof, tumbling off the top of the house and skimming over the lawn. Watching and singing, shouting when necessary, sometimes I wonder when he sleeps. I can hear him now as I type, alarm calling about something.

A good poodle

We had a drama earlier in the week when a baby jackdaw from the chimney colony next door launched on her maiden flight and landed in a pile of wood and plastic pots being amassed outside the garage on its way to be recycled.

There was a streak of curly fur as the poodles whizzed past to see what had landed, barking like nutters (not behaving perfectly like in the above picture where they were allowed into our favourite coffee bar to watch us eating pecan pie) I may add.

Ms McJackie squawked and fled into the shrubs pursued by the dogs of hell. Eventually we extricated the hellpoodles and shut them indoors and Ms McJackie who by this time was clinging in a ‘I’m nae going anywhere and I want Mammie!’ sort of way to the ornamental vine was encouraged to attempt to fly up and back to the rooftops where the Clan McJackie (twenty strong)  were all cracking out encouraging words, “Come on up here, wee lassie, ye can do it!!!” “Aye, we’ll share our chips wi’ ye, get a move on!” “Take nae notice of those dogs, away back to the rooftops!”

P1070750This is not the time of year to go out in our garden if you want peace and quiet. Coupled with the sounds of half a dozen neighbourhood kids bouncing and shrieking on the trampoline set up in the back lane, the hum of DIY as neighbours saw up things and drill things and cut things… I go back indoors for peace and talk to the seedlings who are desperate to get out in the garden and take the snails and slugs on head to head, or mouth to mouth.

Hook and tendrilI tell them ‘No,not yet, grow a little bigger, build up some bitter tastes in your leaves, give yourself a chance, where’s the rush?”  I have the upper hand as they don’t have feet but this one has little subdividing hook-like claws that grab my clothes when I walk past as if trying to hitch a lift.

And finally I observe the neighbourhood cats who aren’t really that exciting, doing what cats do no doubt all over the world, but there is a lack of cats on this blog so this is a small attempt to redress that balance.

Ginger Cat is one of those cats who has four homes. One neighbour has said he is most definitely their cat as they pay the vet bills. Ginger Cat is frequently spotted in a variety of front windows, smirking gently to us as we walk by. “Yes I live here too, everyone adores me, and everyone feeds me, so do I need you?!”  Ginger Cat spends many happy hours yowling “This is my patch, mine, mi-ine all MINE, and I am going to SCWEAM and SCW-EAM until you go away or I will rip your tail off!”   He also falls off fences and is fairly useless at catching birds so we just roll our eyes and look the other way for the most part.

There is also Large White Cat who has recently appeared out back. He is bigger than Ginger Cat and there is an ongoing argument going on as to who gets to sit on which wall and glare longest. “You”ve had it your own way far too long and now you’re going to have to move over!” Ginger Cat replies “Go on make me make me!”

And finally we still see No Tail;  presumably someone has already ripped his tail off in a previous battle, the older cat who travels miles for the privilege of having Brian squirt him with water when he chases the garden birds. He spends a lot of time hiding under cars, playing Car Roulette. Doesn’t say much, keeps himself to himself.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some toast and a cup of tea. And then another walk of course. Have a lovely Sunday my friends!

Zeb in the Grass with Blue Ball

PS The beetle on the buttercup – we’ve looked it up and it is an Oedemera nobilis. Described in my Collins British Wildlife Book as follows :

Distinctive little beetle, body is shiny green and surprisingly slender. Elytra taper and splay towards tip of abdomen and do not completely cover wings. Male has distincitve swollen hind femurs. Seen May-August. Common and widespread in S England and Wales. Favours grassy places and visits flowers to feed on pollen.

That’s my boy!

42 thoughts on “Thoughts in June

  1. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    I feel like I’ve spent a lovely summer’s day with you! :) So much peace and cheer in your writing! Birds and poodles and bees and ladybirds, not to mention neighbourhood cats that everyone names and feeds (we have a couple of those here too) – sounds like you’re having a glorious weekend! xxx

    1. Joanna Post author

      We are having a lovely weekend thank you darling, stacks of photos in the cameras and maybe I will write another post later this week. Going to look and see if the fledglings have survived the night in a mo xx

  2. frandough

    Joanna, your Thoughts in June is a wonderful post. I have enjoyed it so much I really feel I am with you as you are so descriptive in your prose! Photography is superb. It is a beautiful day in here in skinny Leeds. Yesterday was horrendous pouring it down all day. So the sunshine is most welcome.
    Have a lovely Sunday. Fran.xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      I like the idea of skinny Leeds! Have a lovely Sunday you too Fran, still haven’t made it down to the toast, going now… xx

  3. Jan

    How lovely to be reading your thoughts again Joanna accompanied by such lovely, vibrant photos of such a beautiful day. I was instantly fond of the daft ginger cat who falls off the fences (meant to do that, didn’t I) and No Tail who deems it a privilege to be hose -squirted (I suppose you think that’s funny….). I do love Zeb’s steady gaze at the pecan pie – it’s that “one false move and your gone” kind of stare.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I use the little squirter that I damp clothes down with -and say psshhh – not a hose Jan! And probably if I didn’t have the dogs that bark and chase then he could come and go as he pleased. I like cats apart from their bird killing behaviour :)

      1. Jan

        I meant the cat’s commentary would have been – I suppose you think, etc. For our part – we like cats too except for the murderous activity in the garden. We’ve also been trying to keep our neighbour’s cats out of our veggie patch – as well as possums – the latest barrier is barbed wire and a low level motion-sensor light, I did also think we could have the sound track to Apocalypse Now but wondered if that would be over the top…..

        1. Joanna Post author

          I am with you now! I found an old comment of yours by coincidence last night refering to throwing gnocchi at the cats. Woah! Barbed wire eh? Helicopter next maybe, one of those little remote controlled ones? It does sound like war xx

  4. narf77

    Look at the thighs on that shiny green insect! It must have been on the Stairmaster for months! Is that a buttercup? We get them here! Oh the joys of living in the Antipodean equivalent of Little Britain :) Bumblebees AND butter cups. I might have to go and have a lay down now as I got very excited then and although I just re-read that sentence and realised it reeks to the high heavens of dripping sarcasm it couldn’t be further from my intention. Simple things amuse simple minds and buttercups are about as simple as they get (and narf7’s brain :) )

    That ladybird looks like I did after having my 3 kids…”Thank GOODNESS that’s over…I need a rest and a nice cup of tea…” Mr and Mrs Blackbird hop around the place here as if they own it. I throw out a couple of carefully cut up cheese sandwiches in the morning for our 3 feral cats and the blackbirds pounce eagerly on them. The cats are too scared to come out with the memory of their past overpopulation and how it was quickly and most efficiently dealt with still uppermost in their minds and thus Mr and Mrs Blackbird take advantage of the situation and harvest cheese sarnies for their breakfast.

    We have 2 big bird baths and aside from Mr and Mrs Blackbird we have all kinds of birds, large and small splashing water around and getting primped and preened up for when spring arrives again.

    Watching you eating pecan pie? I think “watching pecan pie” is more to the point ;). I bet he wouldn’t even like it if you offered him some. I had a jar of peanut butter yesterday. We don’t usually buy it and I had read that dogs LOVE the stuff. I took a bit on my finger and offered it to Earl. He ran away with his tail between his legs… next Bezial…who reacted by barking at my finger and running away. Apparently my “dogs” are not great fans of the peanutty goodness ;)

    Loved the Scottish Jackdaw clan moment. We have lots of your endemic species here, smuggled in by homesick ex-pats but not Jackdaws. I take it they were too bolshie for the trip over ;)

    Ginger cat has it made doesn’t he? I bet he doesn’t hide and let the blackbirds have his cheese sandwiches! Cats everywhere! We only have our 3 kitten/cats and their dad who occasionally pops in for a feed and a chat. We are watching them closely to see which are female and which are male. Females get the rough end of the stick but the males can stick around and be fed forever more. Nature (and country living) is cruel.

    I will pass on the toast but that cup of tea has just garnered my interest…might be time to join you on a round the world tea gustatory event methinks. Have a fantastic Monday whereby we have a holiday and I dare say you don’t. Whatever you are doing, enjoy doing it :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Those thighs would make any lady insect tremble wouldn’t they? We tracked the insect down, apparently there are more of them now than they used to be. Buttercups are just great and not nearly as annoying as dandelions. Our patch of lawn is now full of daisies and a purple geranium thing that has moved in. Something I bought and it self sows everywhere and has tiny purple flowers. Love it too. One day there will be no grass just flowers in that middle patch of the garden. If I threw out cheese sarnies, the dogs would have them faster than you can say knife, so we have to feed very carefully, as the brown dog has pancreatitis. She still forages for rabbit poo when we go out though and that doesn’t seem to do her any harm. Don’t you love the birds getting in the bath? I just love it! It is raining this morning but I have my trusty cuppa by my side and am happily typing away here. Have a good week Narf xx

      1. narf77

        Its 3.18am and I am just about to liberate the boiling water from my trusty kettle tapping away slowly on Brunhilda in order to make my very first (life giving) cuppa for the day. Earl eats any kind of dung he can find on his walks or if it is particularly rancorous, he rolls in it…sigh…I don’t think there is much wrong with his digestive system as he eats pool noodles in order to cleanse his colon…

        Love the sound of that little purple daisy and wish that we had the growing conditions (well…the rainfall ;) ) that you guys get. We could grow SO much here if we did. Our boys are too fussy to eat cheese sarnies. They sniff whatever we give them and if they don’t like it they just turn their (fussy) heads away. Never known dogs like it! My experience of “dog” is that they will eat EVERYTHING and will beg for ear wax but our two make fussy an artform. Yesterday Steve tried spam. Never had it before (probably never will again) and although Earl ate a bit, Bezial spit it out as soon as he tasted it…

        Have that great week right-back-attcha Joanna :)

  5. sallybr

    Agree on the complexities of getting older and memories, both good and bad adding their own tone to what in childhood were just simple days.

    In 48 hours it will be 10 years that my Dad left us, so June is a month that brings with it a lot of sadness. Not sharp, though. Ten years mellow every pain, I suppose.

    beautiful words with equally beautiful images…. thank you

    1. Joanna Post author

      There is no timetable to grief and bereavement is there? Kubler-Ross talked about the stages of grief but didn’t set out a timespan in which it had to happen, that is the modern way to want beginnings and endings to every set of feelings that could be less than productive for the economy. Go with your feelings Sally and your thoughts and they will come and go as they always do, as all our thoughts do, and allow them to be. (Can you tell I have been reading about mindfulness? xxx huge hugs)

  6. ardysez

    A very entertaining (and beautiful) post, Joanna. I have just been through a spate of days of remembrance and birthdays. Yes, longing for the simpler days at times. I have been happy enough to not eat most things I used to, in the last 6 months, but that pecan pie has me salivating. Only trouble is, my tastes have now changed so much, I doubt it would taste good to me. I shall remember all the many pieces I have eaten over the years with great fondness, however. Lovely to see the seedlings on the windowsill of your kitchen. Wish I was there to tarry a while in the summer din of your garden and see that white peony!!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am taking photos of the white peony for you, lots of buds this year and two big fat ones right now. It is the last one to come out, the big pink ones are already being blowsy. The seedlings are two climbers and they are desperate to get out. I know what you mean about tastes changing. The pie was good, not so sweet with a nice crisp pastry. The coffee shop is down in Small Street, so a bus ride away, I am safe most of the time :) xx

  7. Michelle

    A wonderful post, thank you. I enjoyed it all the more for being out of London and in the Norfolk countryside, absorbed by all the sights and smells of a warm week in June. I only wish I knew what I was looking at half the time as you obviously do!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you Michelle, how sweet of you! are you having a wonderful time in Norfolk? I love it over there! I am not that good at flowers and shrubs and particularly wild flowers as they have a way of being very local and there are loads of different ones, with very similar looking flowers. I try to learn a couple of new ones each year. The big shrubs are the easiest, like elderflower which has big rosettes of blossom and smells like it tastes when you make it into cordial or use it to flavour sugar. That one is around now and very popular in England.

      1. Michelle

        We are having a wonderful time, it is incredibly beautiful and I’m particularly happy to be near the sea for the first time in a long while! I am adding several plants to my repertoire each year too – wildflowers are beyond me for the moment though. I think it is easier when you have someone with you who can identify them properly…I did discover elderflower last year and have seen it everywhere since we have been in Norfolk which pleases me very much! Much more abundant and healthier looking than it is in London :-) I haven’t used it to flavour sugar though, great idea!

  8. Ann

    Lovely to have you back! Beautiful post and pictures – you have made me all nostalgic for an English June garden.
    Zeb is showing great restraint over that slice of pie. i am not sure that Spot would have so much self control!

    1. Joanna Post author

      He was on best behaviour Ann! And he leaves things on tables alone unless he is left in the room on his own with them. We were so pleased they let us in with them. Kind folk. Apparently it is entirely up to the proprietors whether they allow dogs in or not. There are no specific health and safety rules. It is at their discretion. We were going to sit outside but they said it was ok to bring them in and they didn’t let us down xx

  9. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Thank you for sharing your weekend with us Joanna. I can almost smell the warmth of ground and grass. Winter finally arrived here this weekend, so it’s a lovely contrast.

      1. Joanna Post author

        I don’t have a flaker mill sorry. I have a very rudimentary hand grain mill which I got once on sale and have used maybe twice, very hard work! The brand I would get if I was going that way and was going to invest in a grain mill or a flaker would probably be a KoMo because I like the way they look and have heard good things only about them :) This NZ site has lots of info and looks like they supply Australia, can’t find an Aus site but I am sure you can … https://flour-power-mills.co.nz/index.php/mill-buying-guide

  10. Maree

    Hi Joanna,
    Lovely post. Its 4:30pm here at the moment…raining and a bit on the dark side, not really cold but I have a gentle fire ticking over to dry the house out.
    Your photos have me yearning for the Summer again!!
    Take care. Maree

    1. Joanna Post author

      I much prefer the light of summer to the dark of winter, I am happier with more hours of light to do things at a slower pace and my brain is hard-wired to want to sleep when it is dark. So I do understand your yearning Maree. It is grey and raining again this morning,but the birds are still tweeting away so I know it is summer nearly :) xx

  11. Debra Kolkka

    I come from sub tropical Queensland and spring in Italy is a delight for me. Now that I am involved, hands on, with my garden at Cada Debbio it is even better. I am fascinated watching things I planted last year reappear, bigger and better. Our garden is filled with fireflies at night…fairyland.

    1. Joanna Post author

      That must be a huge contrast for you, pure pleasure to watch a garden grow in the Spring. I somehow forget just how big some plants get. I love the sounds of your fireflies, you are very lucky :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      It was magical Claire! I saw some very large bristly black caterpillars yesterday and it turns out they are peacock butterfly ones, you are right about stopping and looking – everything is interesting xx

      1. Karin Anderson

        Great! Several of the Fresh Loafers joined already, and it will be a wonderful collection. I will put every contribution plus photo and link to the blog post (if there is one) on my blog.
        I’m eager to see what you will come up with!

  12. ray@garlic buddha

    Your post makes me mindful that I have not been out with my camera in months. Studies will hopefully end in the next month so hopefully will be able to rectify this shortly – and how good does that pecan pie look? :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Both have something to offer, camera free walks are great too :). But I like your photos so look forward to seeing some when you are free of course work :)

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