August – summer reaches its ripest

A shrill chorus of skylarks accompanies me as I set off for my run across newly baled fields. My feathered companions seem cheerfully oblivious, but down below, exercise can be thirsty work at this time of year.

At 38.5 Celsius, August boasts the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK. The days of piercing heat are numbered, though, and are reliant on winds from southern latitudes. Day by day, the midday sun is lowering, its strength mellowing. In unison, the verdancy of early summer is giving way to a softer glow. The pace of growth is slowing and summer is ripening off nicely.

…high summer can continue unabated into September

August may be a soporific month for those who can choose to holiday, but there’s no time for slouching on the farm. Harvest is in full swing.

Its weather can test even the most patient – farmers and fun-seekers alike. There are no regular patterns. Some years, the dry continental heat of high summer can continue unabated into September. Other times, the jet stream’s indifference to our outdoor pursuits is all too apparent, regularly interrupting events with bouts of cool, damp Atlantic weather. Regardless, a more reliable bellweather of longer-term change is the pre-migratory gathering of over twenty swallows sitting on the barn roof, observing my panting exertions as I run past. They’re preparing to head south.

For sustenance, I grab a handful of blackberries from the hedgerow and turn for home. Back in June, I would have returned towards the setting sun. Now, the dusk has already arrived, there’s a mist forming in the valley and a lone blackbird pierces the chilling air as night falls.

Autumn’s on the way.

(Written by John for BBC Countryfile Magazine)

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