17 Sep 2023

It’s been a hot September so far and the bright sun shows up little white horseshoe scuff marks on the black tarmac of the narrow lane bridleway going upwards out of the village. The marks are very clear on the steep part past the rowan, hawthorn, and elderflower trees; and around the gate where the horse has to dance a bit whilst the rider pulls the tall lever that slips the bolt to open the gate and give access to the last bit of the lane up to the high moor.

Elderflower leaves are starting to turn, they are the first ones. Leaves of the other trees are still dark green, but elderflower leaves are now fading to pale yellow, almost white, tinged with pink and purple. The oaks have green acorns, soon to become brown and fall; though it will be a while before the leaves follow.

Thistle heads and rosebay willow herb are releasing fluffy seeds to be blown in the wind and catch in gorse bushes either side of the lane to make cobwebs of down. The summer swifts have long gone and have been back in Africa for some weeks now; but there are still flocks of chirruping white-rumped house martins wheeling around the farm and sitting on telephone lines.

The hot and sunny September weather has been perfect for haymaking so the grassy meadows around the moor have been cut and the air is full of the scent of fresh hay laid out in rows drying ready to be gathered and stored for winter feed. John Clare talks about this wonderful scent in his poem ‘Haymaking’:

'Tis haytime and the red-complexioned sun

Was scarcely up ere blackbirds had begun

Along the meadow hedges here and there

To sing loud songs to the sweet-smelling air’

Lots of rain in the early summer followed by this September week of sun has been a boon to the farmers getting a second crop of hay from the meadows. A couple of years ago, a very dry summer had everyone worrying about how they were going to feed their overwinter livestock. This year there is plenty.

The smell of freshly mown hay gives me a real lift in mood. It’s one of the seasonal ‘smellscapes’ I look forward to. Research on stress-related mental health problems shows that smellscapes can be helpful in mental health recovery (see links below for the academic-minded).

Are there scents in nature that you find particularly evocative and helpful? One of the research articles suggests the smell of pelargoniums being a good one!

Smellscapes and mental health:

Rowan on the moor

A Moodscope member

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Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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