Midsummer Meadows

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A strange indolence has crept over me lately. It becomes increasingly difficult to do anything much. We have been experiencing summer in the south. I have spent as much time as possible lying in the shade, but when not prone have occasionally forced myself into some activity to make a record of some sort to commemorate this prolonged summer, an old-fashioned summer.

It is perfectly possible now to find midsummer meadows across London. The creation of improved wildlife habitats coincides neatly with a less labour intensive management of open spaces and authorities across London have embraced the idea of the wildflower meadow over the past few years. The return of the unmown.

Parks have joined verges, boundaries, forgotten spaces in apparent freedom of growth.

I glimpsed poppies beside the track from the window of the Docklands Light Railway the other day, just beyond Canary Wharf, and a white butterfly was about to descend on the patch. Too quick to record, but the memory lingers.

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I have always loved drawing grasses. Maybe it is something of childhood associations, holidays, days of freedom, daisy chains. Lazy afternoons in the park. I also remember bicycle rides from Maidenhead to Cookham sneaking into fields festooned with hayricks, in a time before they were all enclosed in plastic, eating squashed cheese and tomato sandwiches.

Now I have a substitute in Hampstead Heath. There is a part we call the Russian meadow as it reminds me of images I have of the steppes.

Another meadow on the Heath is a good place to see kestrels.

As my explorations continue around London I find more and more meadows.

Finally there are signs the season is passing. The heat is taking its toll. I know the swifts have gone.

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