So is the year half full, or is it half empty?  I look out the window, through eyes nipping with too many hours in the dark – by-election result deep in the night.  There might only be half a dozen of them but too many have I sat through of late, reading or whatever.

But those squinting orbs gaze out, and there is a thistle.  It has upwards of twenty heads waiting; waiting to burst into purple and fluff.  And it is a jaggy thistle, very.  The policies are somewhat overgrown at the moment.  Waist high are the seed heads and wildflowers and weeds.  Nettles are taking over, triffid-like, and they attack you, through clothing.

But poke about in them one must, for there are eggs out there, somewhere.  The chickens are on the loose early today, for one escaped when the food hopper was being topped up.  And they are card-carrying chooks; one out, all out.  I’ve been in the habit of confining them to a run, at least until lunch, in the hope that eggs may appear where they are supposed to be.  But they hold on to them, the very antithesis of the schoolboy in the bath, or anywhere, as it happens.  And clutches of eggs are hidden deep in the undergrowth.

But I care little.  The laburnum cascades yellow fountains, flickering in the breeze.  Deep within, the seed-feeding plate disappears, but still empties far too quickly.  The pheasant harvests the scatterings below.  Red flowers emerge on the hawthorn, and the rowan promises a rich harvest – or is it a harsh winter?  And lost in the maple hedge, fully foliaged to full height now, siskins squabble over sunflower hearts.

The goldfinches are absent friends now, but their cousins are still here in numbers.  It is siskins though that catch the eye as darts of yellow and green flit from fence to feeder.  And the house martins are busy, chirping away as they work.

And being a fine evening we managed a collective cycle, an hour before bed, among the midges.  True to form the old grasshopper was left trailing on the hills, trailing in the wake of a seven year old, whooping past.

The time from winter to summer solstice has flown, for it has been busy.  Gala week has been and gone.  The raft race was a first this year, fun on the water, 35 teams splashing and laughing where only a few years ago there were but half a dozen.  I’m still waiting on the call for the car treasure hunt prize.  The quiz team were put off by a rogue cancellation phone call, opposition presumably.  And the school float in the parade made a lot of noise dressed in bright motley, like the children onboard.  The pipe band, which we had been due to follow, complained of the noise and some baton-twirlers were spaced out in between.  But we couldn’t hear the pipes, or the drums.  And the crafty old grasshopper had his earplugs as oil drums were battered, cymbals crashed and whistles blown as the parade meandered through the town.  Vuvuzelas next time too.

Urchin the Elder sang and danced in the bandstand.  Ding dong the witch is dead, gangnam style; and the drama group gave her a certificate, Most Improved Junior.  Brilliant.

And the school has had the closing assembly.  Four head off to the academy, tears flowing, but that was just the parents, the entire gathering in fact.  Off they go, leaving 28 behind, joining another 800 or so, ready to thrive.

Only a couple more days now, a few days until the wings are clipped and there is more than me to think about until half three.  They’ll need lunch too for goodness sake.  Midsummer, don’t you just love it?




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