Where there's muck, there's magic

Country Life UK|May 27, 2020

Where there's muck, there's magic
Under a bright-blue May sky with the chatter of swallows, John Lewis-Stempel marvels at the wildflowers in the meadow as his herd of Limousin cattle enjoy the lush grass in five-acre field
John Lewis Stempel
ABOVE, blue sky, and the liquid chatter of swallows. Beneath, plant growth so vigorous it seems to lift you up. Everywhere, the bearable lightness of being. Summer has deigned to visit.

I heard a cuckoo yesterday, booming its woodwind diphone call from the darkening copse on the hill. And I remembered a ditty from my country childhood:

Cuckoo, cuckoo…

What do you do?

In April, I open my bill.

In May, I sing night and day.

In June, I change my tune.

In July, far, far, I fly.

In August, away! I must…

When a cuckoo sings evensong, fair weather follows the next day. The bird did not deceive. The sun is now glossing the backs of the cattle as they amble down for their 3 pm gather at the water-bowser, much as human office workers congregate around the water cooler at this time.

Actually, it must be after 3 pm. The scarlet pimpernel at my feet has closed its heads; of the components of the floral dial, Anagallis arvensis is almost Swissly reliable. But not yet 5 pm, as the dandelions are still—just—sunning their faces. (The Victorian parson-naturalist Rev James Neil has a complete English wildflower clock in Rays from the Realms of Nature.)

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May 27, 2020