This September morning I am woken by the Jackdaws clattering and sliding down the roof. I think they may be trying to get warm on the slates, catching the sun as the heat absorbs into the dark surface. Sometimes, when it has been really hot in the summer, enough to cook an egg in seconds, I have seen them cling on to the tiles, spread their wings and flatten their feathers to the sun. They lie there, beaks open, panting.
I can hear other birds, the song of the morning. But the swallows have gone and it feels cold outside the duvet. The warmth of the summer, which was being held in the thick stone walls of the house is gradually seeping away into the mists. Last night the weather forecast announced the first frost further north. I get up, make a cup of tea, and get back into bed.
Yesterday we had a fire in the stove for the first time in months. I think ahead to all the wood we’re going to need. The house is only heated with wood, we have a woodfired range in the kitchen which heats the water and a few radiators, and a woodburning stove in the sitting room.
Earlier this year we re-pollarded an old Ash pollard which stands in the hedge line of the back field, as well as felling a few other trees, mainly Sycamore, Ash and Hazel, part of the ‘restoration hedge’ project.
An ancient pollard is a truly beauteous thing and well worth searching a few out to admire.
The Woodland Trust has an excellent resource to find out where ancient trees can be visited. One year we went to Staverton Park in Suffolk, a privately owned estate, one of the country’s best preserved medieval deer-parks, with many ancient Oak pollards and huge Hollies in the wooded Thicks.
Ash is one of the best fire woods, belting out a lot of heat and burning slowly and can even be burned a little green if necessary. Our pile has been drying out over the summer so should be fine to burn this winter. But it won’t be enough.
When we go to France, where half my family live, we covetously drool over the amazingly large and neatly stacked woodpiles outside peoples’ houses, wood being a resource so abundant in France that it makes a Cornwall dweller weep. (Waiting for M to send me a picture – yes you!).
Ah well, better open a bottle of Roughtor beer from our local micro brewery and drown the wood sorrows by the fire. Come join me.