Maize Battalions Stand To in the Sunrise
With the passing of the Autumn Equinox the changing of the seasons gains pace. The lengthening nights allow the early riser to see the dawn and the low early morning sun cast its long shadows over the land. The crystal clear air its moisture laid upon the ground as dew creates a sharpness to the horizon and the vista rising from it. Monday’s clear blue dawn was capped by the distant condensation trails of aircraft far away perhaps even as far as France and the Low Countries. The plane below the Cotswold is revealed as a rival to stand against the landscapes painted by the Grand Tourists of earlier centuries with stands of slender poplars seen in sharp relief backed by the low sun. Here and there are fields of maize part harvested the remaining plants standing to attention, formed into squares, bayonets fixed awaiting the early charge of some distant cavalry. In slow hollows the heat of the early sun lifts the dew into a mist rolled on by the land breeze being drawn up the sloping hills.
Around the Stroudwater we are seeing Autumn’s golden rain falling from above as the trees put on their final coats of many colours before settling down for the long winter sleep. Here and there the quiet is punctuated with the clatter of falling conkers and passing schoolchildren still collect them - especially if Grandad is walking them to school.
After last week’s extreme activity under the barn Western Depot has returned to a less frenetic pace. Hidden behind the effort at Eastington was an equally intense activity for the logging team. The high winds of mid September had brought down many trees in the county. The canal and its towpath was blocked in several places by fallen trees and branches. A team of three sawyers and three banksmen dealt with fallen trees at the ocean railway bridge and by skew bridge. The former was one trunk of a group of three growing from the same root. This poor quality wood was rendered into handling size pieces and laid alongside the towpath. The smaller branches and were reduced and put back in the undergrowth adding to the natural habitat for the smaller mammals and insects of the woodland. The embankment around the railway bridge is expected to be cleared for some distance either side of the canal when Network Rail start work preparing for the re-opening of the blockage with a new bridge in May 2021.
The tree at Skew Bridge was much more of a challenge. A large tree had toppled into the canal from the offside. Much of it was underwater and the root had been torn out of the ground. The combined efforts of the WD Sawyers and the crew of Wooky Hole set to over two days to make the tree safe and remove it piece by piece from the water. The lumber was returned to the landowner.
After the long hot and dry summer many trees are likely to be vulnerable to falling over during the winter and the loggers at both ends of the Cotswold Canals expect to be busy. If you, dear reader, on your perambulations along the cut see trees which are looking the worse for wear or worse then please let us know so we can address the problem before it becomes an event.