We’re well into summer, and the illustrations and journal entries in Edith Holden’s The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady have me reminiscing about childhood summers and looking at the current one with greater appreciation.

These butterflies and pink bramble flowers remind me of the times I spent with my grandparents when I was a child. They lived along a gravel country road and I’ll always remember the hot earthy scent of dust and pink wild roses, and the monarch or monarch-like butterflies that frequented them.

Edith’s notes:

July 3rd—There are two distinct kinds of Blackberry blossoms growing here. One with very large pink blossoms with five petals, the other white, with double the number of petals. The strawberries are very plentiful now on all the banks.

My grandmother was terrified of snakes. The sight of one in the garden would send her running for the kitchen, and for my grandfather whose job it was to dispatch the snakes. One of his favorite stories was the time my grandmother and mother abandoned me, a mere toddler, in the strawberry patch with a “big black snake,” although details of the exact size and color were long ago lost in the many retellings of this story.

Edith mentions several snakes in her July notes.

July 19—A Viper was brought in, killed near Vixon Tor today.

July 22—On the way home I saw a dead Grass Snake about two feet long hanging on a bough.

This summer we have a little garter snake living in the hedge between us and our neighbors, and I’m happy to report it is alive and thriving. The robins have been nesting in that hedge all summer, and we’re grateful that our little snake is either too small to eat robins’ eggs and babies, or doesn’t have an appetite for them.

In last month’s notes, Edith mentioned a Dartmoor pony and its foal. Her sketch of mother and baby was included in her July notes. Dartmoor ponies continue to thrive today.

July 18th—Going through the fields to Walkhampton I have constantly noticed a little wren fly out from a certain place in the wall; I thought it was seeking for insects in the crannies between the stones, but today I discovered a nest made of dried grasses, with a number of eggs. This is the latest in the season I have found.

In my neighborhood, the robins are still busy with nests and babies, and the humming birds are once again performing their aerial mating displays. Which tells me we still have a lot of summer ahead of us.

Until next time,

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