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Summer Scorcher Photo: Horse Chestnut in Courtown Woods

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

I look at the weather forecast most nights to determine my plan for the following day. If it’s to be very wet and windy then its reading ,and writing. If its dry its walking and gardening. It’s such a simple retiree’s problem. Last night we were promised up to 26 degrees of heat so that meant an early morning for walking ,siesta after lunch and then grass cutting later in the afternoon.

I had only just started my walk when I detected a lazy heron perched on a tree which had fallen across the river. `I got some lovely photos of her posing and preening herself. A granny walking with her 3 young grand children stopped and shared my heron with her grandchildren. She duly snapped the Heron, and all were happy to move on.

We hadn’t progressed too far when I heard one of the children tell granny that it was raining nuts . When I was about to look up, I felt a nice tapping on my head. We were just experiencing a proper shower of beech tree seed pod kernels and the ground was being covered with them. Granny prayed to the lord with her “ Oh my God , its raining nuts and it’s not Halloween yet”. The little 9-year-old speculated that it could be squirrels higher up in the trees throwing nuts at us . The ground now had a nice covering of beech seed kernels . I left them to their speculation and moved on.

I had only walked about 20 metres when I heard a dull thud on my left followed by another and yet one more. The horse chestnuts had started to fall, and it seemed as if autumn had been announced a couple of weeks early. It was lovely to feel the big spiky fruit which falls on the ground , splits open and later forms that lovely brown conker.

It all seemed such a short time since we were admiring the creamy white flowers on the chestnut , heralding in summer . We remember commenting on the number of bees around in May because of the rich source of nectar in the chestnut trees.

Yesterday I saw a member of the arum lilies family and I encountered another today. They have so many names. I always called them Lords and Ladies, but I have also heard them called Cuckoo Pint or Soldiers Diddies.

Anyway, whatever you call them they are not a very human or animal friendly plant being totally poisonous to animals and humans alike.

The female version is easily recognisable with its bright red cluster of berries while the males have sticky hairs to trap insects.

The usual advice holds for this lord and lady specimen as for many other plants and organisms in the forest, if you are not sure don’t touch or taste them .

Another useful habit is to take a photo of the plant and go home and check it out with another family member, or on your laptop ,or reference book or plant recognition app. It’s always better be sure than sorry.

I continued on my way noticing some wild mushrooms growing on tree stumps and on the side of trees . As I did not know the names of any of them, or if they were safe to touch ,I just took a photograph and brought the memory home in my head and digitally on my phone and I will check the names and whether they are edible or not .

When I arrived back to the car it was showing up 33 degrees , cooling down to 26 degrees as I drove home.

It was surely living up to its billing as being a scorching hot summers day in Courtown, County Wexford.

I drove home with all windows wide open bringing the temp down and keeping myself as cool as possible on a not so typical scorcher of an Irish summer day in August 2020.


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