Derek – Friday 6th August 2021

Last Sunday, for the first time since 2019, we had music again in the garden. About 40 people turned up to hear Lucky Thomas playing his pan (or steel drum as you might know it as). Lucky played a mixture of reggae and popular tunes in a rhythm that made one think of Jamaica and Carnival. Lucky has been very involved in the Notting Hill Carnival for many years, a renowned costume maker. He teaches the pans in a number of schools around Hackney.

There was a risk of rain but it held off for the concert, and we had sunshine to welcome the return of music, reminding us what a hard time musicians have been having, their living curtailed during the lockdown restrictions. Let’s have more live music while we still have summer.

As we get into August, many flowers have finished flowering, though the wildflower bed is showing some recovery with red and orange poppies, and borage holding out. The bed took quite a bashing in the recent storms. The hollyhocks by the pond and along the buddleia are still giving a good show, with yellow and red blooms.

The helicopters on the sycamore are full size, a sign that autumn is on the way. They are green, so still maturing, eventually to give all those seedlings we will be pulling out of the beds next spring and summer. Under the tree a lily, able to grow in its shade, has majestic, pink, spotted blooms.

We are exactly halfway between the Summer Solstice (June 21) and Autumn Equinox (September 21). Tonight the sun goes down at 20.39. We have lost roughly two hours of daylight since the peak in June, with the sunrise later and sunset earlier. We will lose the same as we proceed to the equinox. It’s all part of the annual cycle as the earth orbits round the sun, at an angle of 23.5 degrees, causing the changes in day length and the seasons. Our year is one orbit round the sun, our day is one twist on the way, these delineations of time reminding us we are on a planet in space.

I spot a large fat slug on the paving stones near the mid gate. It’s at least 10 cm long, light brown with thin parallel lines along its length. It is Arion ater, which can be black too, and so commonly called the large brown slug or large black one. I don’t try to move it, as it is extremely slimy, and the slime is difficult to wash off. Slugs and snails travel on a trail of slime which is why we don’t see them often in daylight as they risk drying out in sunlight. You can find them without much trouble by lifting large stones or flower pots. This one, I see for a few days in daylight in the same place. And then it’s gone. I wonder if a bird has had it.

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