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Some of the most observable plants in flower are the vine : the wood-spurge, and wood-pimpernel, the one in dry, the other in moist thickets; buckbean, water iris, and willowherbs, in marshes; meadow-cranes-bill, vipers-bugloss, and corn-poppy, in fields; mullein, foxglove, thistles, and mallow, by road-sides and in ditch banks; and that singular plant the bee orchis, in chalky or limestone soils.
Gooseberries, currants, and strawberries, begin to ripen in this month, and prove extremely refreshing as the parching heats advance. About an hour before sunset, in the mild evenings of this month, it is highly amusing to watch the common white or barn owl in search of its
prey, which consists almost wholly of field-mice. The large quantity of soft plumage with which this bird is covered, enables it to glance easily, and without noise, through the air. Its manner of hunting is very regular, first beating up the side of a hedge, then taking a few turns over the meadow, and finishing by the opposite hedge, every now and then dropping among the grass in order to seize its food. It has been found by careful observation, that when a pair of owls have young, a mouse is brought to the nest about once in
every five minutes.
Another interesting nocturnal bird is the goat-sucker, or fern-owl, nearly allied to the swallow genus in its form, its mode of flight, and food; it is by no means common, but may be occasionally observed hawking among the branches of large oaks in pursuit of the scarabeus solstitialis, or fernchaffer, which is its favourite food.
The balmy evenings, about the middle of this month, offer yet another interesting object to the naturalist; this is the angler's may-fly (ephemera vulgata), the most short-lived in its perfect state of any of the insect race ;
from the water, where it passes its aurelia state, about six in the evening, and dies about eleven at night. They usually begin to appear about the fourth of June, and continue in succession nearly a fortnight.
On the twenty-first of June happens the summer solstice, or longest day; at this time in the most northern parts of the island there is scarcely any night, the twilight continuing almost from the setting to the rising of the sun; so that it is light enough at midnight to see to read. This
season is also properly called Midsummer, though, indeed, the greatest heats are not yet arrived, and there is more warm weather after than before it.
THERE are the mowers at work! there are the haymakers ! Green swathes of mown grass, haycocks, and wagons ready to bear them away—it is summer indeed. What a fragrance comes floating on the gale from the clover in the standing grass, from the new-made hay, and from those sycamore trees, with all their pendant flowers. It is delicious; and yet one cannot help regretting that the year has advanced so far. There, the wild rose is putting out; the elder is already in flower; they are all beautiful, but saddening signs of the swift-winged time. Let us sit down by this little stream,
and enjoy the pleasantness that it presents, without a thought of the future.
Ah! this sweet place is just in its pride. The flags have sprung thickly in the bed of the brook, and their yellow flowers are beginning to show themselves. locks of the water ranunculus are lifted by the stream, and their flowers form snowy islands on the surface; the water-lilies spread out their leaves upon it like the pallettes of fairy painters; and that opposite bank, what a prodigal scene of vigorous and abundant vegetation it is! There are the blue geraniums as lovely as ever; the meadow-sweet is hastening to put out its foam-like flowers, that species of golden-flowered mustard occupies the connecting space between the land and water, and harebells, the jagged pink lychnis, and flowering grass of various kinds, make the whole bank beautiful. Every plant that is wont to show itself at this season, is in its place, to give its quota to the accustomed character of the spot; every insect to beautify it with its hues, and enliven it with its peculiar sound.
The may-flies, in thousands, are come forth to their little day of life, and are flying up and dropping again in their own peculiar way. The stone-fly is found head downwards on the bole of that tree. The midges are celebrating their airy and labyrinthine dances with an amazing adroitness. Dragon-flies of all sizes and colours are hovering and skimming and settling amongst the water-plants, or on some natural twig, evidently full of enjoyment. The great azure bodied one, with its filmy wings, darts past with reckless speed, and slender ones—blue and purple, and dun and black, made as of shining silk by the fingers of some fair lady, and animated for a week or two of summer sunshine by some frolic spell, now pursue each other, and now rest as in sleep. The white-throat goes flying with a curious, cowering motion over the top of the tall grass from one bush to another, where it hops unseen, and repeats its favourite chaw-chaw. The willow-warbler, the mocking bird of England, maintains its incessant imitations of the swallow, the sparrow, the chaffinch, the wbite-throat, fitting and chattering in the bushes that overhang the stream. The land-rail repeats its continuous crake-crake from the meadow grass, and the
water itself ripples on, clear and musical, and chequered with small shadows from many a leaf, and bush, and moving bough. We lift our heads--and in the west what a ruby sun—what a gorgeous assemblage of sunset clouds !-WILLIAM Howitt's Rural Life.
Who calleth ? I am coming, I am coming
Pouring from my broadlipp'd horn
They say, “Doth not summer come ?”
Who calleth? Bird in greenwood, deer in forest,
Who blossom in the town,
In the meadows yond' all day.
Who calleth? All the great sea-waves are weary
And would like to go to sleep
On the surface of the deep,
And all the little streams awake;
And wreathe them in a veil about my brow.
If I walk upon the land,
Invoking every day
Oh ! little child and sire,
Seated by your waning fire,
BESSIE PARKES. With summer comes the universal yearning after her, in no heart so intensely felt as in that of Poet city-pent ; witness the following:
ODE TO SUMMER.
Oh! well may poets make a fuss
Of London pleasures sick :
This endless meal of brick !
What joy have I in June's retum?
I scent no flowery gust :
And turns me “dust to dust."
My sun his daily course renews
The path is dry and hot !
But down a chimney's pot !
The dewy meads among !
By folks of vulgar tongue !