Make hay while the sun shines
Sweet are the hazy afternoons by village cricket grounds, bees humming, scones for tea, mown grass and the clear, cold, meandering river beckoning for a swim
‘A snapdragon bends under the weight of a fat bumblebee
High summer and the air is heavy with heat. Under the greenshade of the oak, cows stand whisking their tails. Sheep, glad now to have been shorn of their heavy fleeces last week, lie in the shadow pool of the hedge.
Along the shimmering flower border of Miss Jones’s cottage, a peacock butterfly flitty-floats; sunny days in Britain are butterfly days. A snapdragon bends under the weight of a fat bumblebee, which then drones away to a foxglove. The lawnmower buzzes up and down.
Although there isn’t a cloud in the blue, blue sky, the farmer looks anxiously at the horizon. The hayfield needs to be cut and needs three fine days on the trot for the job. A breeze shimmies through the wheatfield. The wheat, orient and golden, can wait a month.
in a steel-and-glass office block in London, the newspaper editor is also studying the sky. Will tomorrow’s leader be ‘Phew! What a scorcher!’ or the other summer standard, ‘Washout!’? The damned weather forecasters are sending ‘mixed messages’, to put it politely.
in the stifling square below, an elderly gentleman, 96 now but still possessed of the alertness that saved his life more than once, is pushed along in a wheelchair. he, too, gazes heavenwards. it was a perfect day like this, in the Spitfire summer of 1940, that he flew his first mission. he came back to Tangmere. Johnny didn’t and The Few were fewer still.
Young office workers sit eating their lunch, faces to the sun, like pale blooms. Others dangle their feet in the cooling fountain. Well, we do like to be in or beside water. We are the island race. The Thames at henley still echoes with the slap of oars from the Royal Regatta, and, in a fortnight, it will be blazers and sails at Cowes. Somewhere on a river in Derbyshire, below the beards of weeds and the dense willow pattern on the water from overhanging trees, a family goes ‘wild swimming’ or, in old money, swimming. On the beach at Tenby, a dreamy girl has made a sandcastle and waits in the pearled haze for the tide to turn and fill the moat.
From the county cricket ground, there is the steady thump of the ball being hit for six; a good innings for the home side at last. At polo clubs, players and ponies, sleek with sweat, start the last chukka of the day.