Memories of late summer and autumn linger on in these short lit days of November. The impatience for next springtime has not yet begun. Rather the prospect of a peaceful evening as curtains are drawn by late afternoon against the gathering darkness of a long winter night. By now some of the hedgerow and garden fruits have been cleared by marauding flocks of birds. Visiting fieldfares and redwings, not to mention our own blackbirds and thrushes have already been feasting on the berries. The rowan tree and blackthorn have been especially prolific this year. Under the crab apple trees lies a carpet of fruit. I rather think, however, blackberries have not been as prolific as last year. Maybe the dry summer and autumn can be held responsible? Unusually what did seem to be much in evidence was the damsel fly. There are two main species, blue and red. Their appearance and then disappearance is so swift it was impossible to note which is which! By no means as common, I was delighted to find a goodly sized area of common toadflax. This perennial yellow or orange plant growing over three feet high makes a nice contrast of colour in a green hedge bottom.
A new event seems set to become a regular feature of our autumnal scene. In September the huntsman’s horn could be heard one evening. The skyline towards Cretingham showed up a group of riders at the gallop preceded by a pack of baying hounds. The quarry was well ahead but the hounds were obviously gaining ground. It was an exhilarating sight. Horses and hounds at speed down a long track hot on the scent. The “music” from the Master’s horn sounded out across the valley. I am glad to report that no death resulted from the hounds catching their “prey” for the hounds were bloodhounds and the quarry a breathless “scent”. They will run true to the trail he leaves behind. I understand, however, he does “underline” it occasionally by a certain means! I will leave that to the imagination of the reader! The hunt ended close by the bridge on the Cretingham Road out of Earl Soham. Light refreshments were provided for the riders. Encouraged by the Master, the hounds had a cooling drink in the river. Some of the horses were impatient to continue and obviously had thoroughly enjoyed the “action”. The ride took them from Kettleburgh and back via a circuitous route. Two of them particularly caught the eye. A pair of beautiful Friesland cobs contrasted nicely with the chestnuts and greys.
Now the principal harvest of the year is underway. Remember when you put a packet of caster sugar in your shopping basket that you could well have seen it go by in a lorry earlier, albeit in a different form, but maybe your sugar nevertheless.