Mad dog days

Monday June 27, 2005

The sun came out again today, bringing a return of the heat. Not quite so hot as it was a couple of days back but, standing in the garden chatting to neighbours, the power of the sun sent me scuttling for shade even so.

First job of the day was to go and have blood drawn for my annual mystery-filled but seemingly routine checks that I’m still making good, healthy blood. It was a ‘fasting test’ so I’d been good, eaten nothing for about thirteen hours, and drunk no more than a little water, either.

By the time the plaster was slapped on the spot and I was dismissed into the sunshine once more, I was feeling just a little wobbly for lack of nourishment. I was clutching the little plastic bottle I’ll need to fill just before attending the clinic on the 13th of next month to get the result of the blood tests, and be checked for all the other physical signs of age-related disease, so I dropped it off in the car, and walked over to the Co-op store for a few bits, including a couple of small, very savoury sausage rolls. Sitting in the car, I munched them greedily before driving back home for the remainder of my breakfast and three large cups of coffee in quick succession.

I think Dolly must have been observing me because just as my eyelids started to droop, she came and rubbed against my leg and gave me the big “Waaaaah” that means she thinks I should go off for a nap. Actually, what she means is that she thinks I’m a sucker for a prolonged cuddle in my dozy state. She was right, too.

It was hot when I woke but not so much that I couldn’t enjoy a brief stroll around the garden, admiring the flowers in the sunshine. We don’t have a good collection of roses here but there are enough to catch them all velvety and heavy-petalled in the sunshine. There’s a white variety, rather draggety for my taste, and a couple of reds. None of them produce the kind of perfect blooms I really enjoy, and they are completely scent-free. Even so, I can’t help but pause for a while and let my heart ease itself at the sight of them. A stroll round a good, healthy rose garden is dramatically effective heart medicine. The combination of glorious visuals and gentle aroma lifts the most weary of souls.

Back to the house to complete my writing for the day, and then I stopped for a Greek salad lunch, followed by a brief nap.

And then, back to the garden, to dead-head faded blooms, and water all the pots, baskets and containers in the company of heavy-winged bees and a queue of dusty birds waiting to dunk themselves all a’flutter in the pond. At the far end we have made a submerged pier of stones to help them take their baths, and to enable any clumsy hedgehog that’s daft enough to stumble into the water to extricate itself without harm.

Sitting for a while in the evening sun, I saw our gigantic garden frog doing much the same by the lip of the pond. He was waiting for his evening meal but, as I stirred, he leaned over, plopped into the water, and sat on the bottom, out of harm’s way. I’m sure that shortly after I returned to the house he clambered back out again, and took his meal as the midges rose for their evening dance.

I was safe indoors before that happened, well out of reach of the midges. I seem become sweeter meat to midges with each passing year, and dare not go out when they fly unless I slather myself with insect-repelling cream. Can’t be doing with midge-bites. Not fatal, but exceeding uncomfortable, and needing swift application of Jungle Cream if they are not to swell and burst.

So, much as I love the sunshine, and the summer, I need increasingly to observe it from the relative cool of the house. If I were a frog, I think I’d observe it from the bottom of the pool, watching the sun dance and dapple on the surface, conserving my energies for less hostile times. Couldn’t do as it myself, of course. I’d get bored, and restless, and need to follow all those generations of Englishmen who traverse the mad dog days of summer with no more shelter than a large, wide-brimmed hat.


Garden rose, Stickford, Jun 27,'05
A rose, heavy in the sun



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