June 28, 2010

This week in wildlife

Summer. The city swelters, broils, flickers like a mirage. In the evenings it hardly cools; the swifts still scream overhead as the smell of a thousand barbecues settles over the streets.
The busy, bus-thundered roads are a misery of fumes and horns and basslines from bouncing convertibles. Everything sounds sharp and off-key; everything feels either sticky or too dry. Nothing happens, except the heat.
On the common the nettles are spent and limp, the lower leaves yellowing and hung with brown bundles of dead blooms. Thistles stand four feet high, and by the paths the wall barley is turning golden. The brambles are in flower, white and pale, dirty pink, promising a good blackberry season to come.
Where the sun hits the paths the ground has hardened and fissured, dun-coloured. Dog walkers’ and joggers’ feet kick up a dry mud fine as dust which settles slowly behind them, the living remnant of the thick winter mud that seems, now, a lifetime away.