stories and illustration

The Barley, the Tweed and the Thunder


The washing is rigged up high above the beans on those poles that ex-seaman use (they abound in Portsmouth, but I guess ours is a one-off in Coldstream), and the sun is baking hot.  “That washing will be dry by now” “Nah, I’ll take it in when I get back.”

Decide to go along the track that lies between the barley field and the Tweed. No swans resting up this year, creating a welter of droppings and feathers by the river bank, waddling in a disgruntled fashion into the water when people approach, which isn’t often

The colours of the barley are extraordinary:




Earlier I thought it was wheat, but that shows what I know  There is a wheatfield at the end of a different walk, through a wood full of rubbish so I don’t walk there so often. When looked at close, they are pretty different.  The barley is really elegant, more streamlined than the wheat, I can’t take my eyes off it:


But then I do take my eyes off it, and see a butterfly, a humble  butterfly to be sure, but any butterfly these days is a cause for rejoicing. And the cabbage white has very beautiful markings (I presume this is a cabbage white, but after the wheat/barley fiasco I am not so sure – not to mention the muddle between himalayan balsam and comfrey):


The balsam is still in flower:


But the phacelia has been cut from the field across the river. The river is very empty today, no swans, no ducks rising up in a flurry and a squawk as one comes near:


Enjoying the quiet walk, the heat, the summer, seeing some bees and butterflies, when I hear a rumble, and think it is those low-flying planes practising their manoeuvres, but it doesn’t diminish and it doesn’t get nearer, it just goes a-growling again, and when I look to the right, there, over the barley, is the sky of storm:


I take a picture of the approaching storm, then I think of the washing.  I see my husband coming down the Duns road thinking about how I don’t listen to his advice. I take some more pictures of the storm as I head for the road, which is quicker than meandering back through the woods (past horses, and rabbits, and the sound of the invisible barn owl ,and the bands of long-tailed tits). The sky is definitely saying that some serious rain is on its way:



When I get to the road, I can’t resist taking some farewell pictures of the other side of the sky:




Then I head for home, not quite running, because I don’t do running, but at a reasonable pace, get in through the back gate, walk up to the vegetable garden, lay my hand on the rigging of the washing line, undo the knot, and then as the line zips downwards, the first drops of rain start.  Within two minutes the summer is rain is a torrent. I hurry down the garden, not having time to pull back the line, and put the washing into the house, as my husband walks in through the back gate, his straw hat cascading water, his clothes dripping, but inside those clothes his person snug and dry, as this is a man who knows how to dress for all eventualities.  And the first thing he says is: “Have you got the washing in?”  ” Ha! I knew you were walking down the Duns road thinking about that.   Yes, I have. Surprise!”

August 1, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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