I was driving home today with the radio on and caught a wonderful programme about Hokusai . He felt that the older he got the better his work was: once he reached 70 he felt that things had begun to get interesting and that if he could live to 110 perhaps he might just manage to master drawing. It is interesting how perception changes with age, the older one gets, the less, one realises, one knows and the awareness that each day really could be the last one starts to seep into one's conciousness. Somehow this slightly melancholic thought fitted the sea change in the seasons that has been happening this past week, which has accelerated over the last couple of days. The year has turned from growth to retreat...the vibrant green the trees kept nearly all Summer, thanks to the rain, is browning, leaves are beginning to drop, nights are cooling and mornings bring heavy, misty dews. I find the change to Autumn as exciting as the change to Spring and even though it hasn't really been a Summer worth the name this year, I'm still ready for Autumn.
The House Martins have been gathering, flying high over the garden, chirruping to eachother as they fill up with insects for the journey home. Martins only fly high over us, briefly, when they first arrive in the Spring and spend more time in the area when they are preparing to go in late Summer. In between the Swifts are in residence, arriving, always, the first week in May and swooping and calling through to -at the latest- mid August. But the sky has been very quiet this month, the Swifts packed up and left very early this year and I suspect the Martins are on their way early too. They have had a rotten Summer.
Another visitor passed through on the way to warmer climes last week, a Willow Warbler. I felt very honoured to see it- drew back the bedroom curtain early one morning and there it was picking around for insects on a shrub right beside the window. It hung around the back garden for a couple of days, then moved on- I shall look out for it again in the Spring and next Autumn; for a few years running a Spotted Flycatcher would stop off in the front garden in Spring, busily eating midges and aphids for a few days before going off on the next stage of its journey. I didn't see it this year, but as it would only be there for a day or so I might just have missed spotting it on the right day.