The meadow in November

Author John Lewis-Stempel has published a delightful book entitled "Meadowland, The Private Life of an English Field". In it he shares with us the things he sees, thinks and feels as he works and relaxes in his wildflower meadow. Even if you are not a naturalist, you will be enthralled by this beautifully written book. Here are some short extracts from the November chapter.

"November is one of my favourite months, with its faded afternoons of cemetery eeriness, and its churchy smell of damp musting leaves. November suited perfectly poor crazed poet John Clare, who limned it so:

Sybil of months, and worshipper of winds!
I love thee, rude and boisterous as thou art;
And scraps of joy my wandering ever finds
'Mid thy uproarious madness.

Although some do feel, with Thomas Hood:

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortabe feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds -

Flint winds from the east cut us irrevocably from summer.

"Hunger makes the hunter. From the house I see two male pheasants in the field, permabulating across with the dignity of Ming Emperors. Even at hundreds of yards the low weak winter sun burnishes them into coppery magnificence. They are past the moult, they are in their feathered prime. Occasionally they stoop to peck at some flower or grass seeed."

male pheasant on roadverge

21 November Picking rose hips from the straggling dog rose by the thicket I come across one of those extraordinary abnormal growhts that is a Robin's pincusion, which is caused by the tiny gall wasp called Diplolepis rosae. The female wasp lays her eggs in the bud of the rose, and in doing so re-codes the normal process of flower growht to produce a round moss-like ball. Inside is a honeycomb of chambers, in each of which is the grub of the wasp.....

robins pin cushion on wild rose stem

Book review

I love this book and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves the idea of being outdoors all year round. It brings new life to my dog walking as I remember the author's comments and notice things in the hedgerows that I would never have spotted before. This will be in my Mum's Christmas stocking this year.

Buy Meadowland online