As Irving Berlin once wrote, “We’re having a heat wave, Tropical heat wave”. The last couple of weeks have seen temperatures rising in Beetley, and every day has been sunny and hot. Even though it makes it hard to sleep at night, I’m not complaining. For too long, we have had damp and cold, followed by rain and damp. This sight of summer is long overdue, and most welcome. Ollie has been feeling the heat though. His coat may be short, but it is thick, and he is listless and uncomfortable. His only relief is to get into the river, something he does frequently on his walks.
I have had to limit the scope of our usual dog walks for now. The other places we go do not have access to any water, and Ollie would get far too hot. I probably would too. There is shade and breeze available over at Beetley Meadows. Away from the exposed sun on the playing fields, trees offer shade, with picnic benches and seats available to rest on. Sitting quietly, you can see the neon-blue damselflies skimming over the water, brilliant against the green of the reeds and river plants. Large brown dragonflies, as big as small birds, patrol their sections of the bank, like WW2 fighters, swooping and diving. Their turn of speed is amazing to watch, and they can change direction in the blink of an eye. Occasionally, they kiss the surface of the water to snatch prey, or tangle with another of the same type, in what appear to be territorial disputes.
The plants in the small river have grown so extensively, it seems as if they will choke its flow. But the water always finds a way through, and continues to trickle rapidly eastwards. At the bend in the river, where access is easy, the summer has brought out the seasonal visitors. Young mums with toddlers, older children with nets and buckets, catching water-insects and tiny fish. Boys fling large stones in, excited by the splashes; some even appear with inflatable boats, determined to explore past the limits of the bend. Picnics are spread out, wet clothes laid out to dry, and new friends are made. Our dogs are eyed with trepidation. We reassure them that they are here every day, and will not harm, or even approach the noisy children. These fair-weather arrivals seek to claim the place for themselves, at least for the duration of the heat, or the holidays. From September until next July, we will see none of them again.
Ollie seems to be confused by their presence, and the absence of attendant dogs. He is only used to seeing other people with dogs, and finds it strange that they would be there without a canine companion. He takes a dip, has a drink, and comes out again. No doubt he wants to escape the squealing and splashing. We wander on, around to the shady dell where the rabbits live. He has a sniff around, but the heat makes him less than enthusiastic to seek them out and chase them. I sit for a while, enjoying the breeze. It is cooler here than inside the bungalow, so makes a nice change from feeling sticky and overwhelmed. The playground and basketball court are both full of children. They only finished school for the holidays the day before, but they are soon out in the fresh air, which is good to see. Seemingly oblivious to the heat, they charge around with footballs, or run up and down slides and climbing frames.
The TV weather news says that it will soon change. Cooler temperatures and heavy showers may well be here by Sunday. But we have made the most of our own little heatwave, and will look forward to when the next one comes around.