Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 17 October 1916

Grey clouds, like wisps of smoke, raced yesterday across a sullen, leady sky, and the roaring woods scattered their bronzed leaves for the savage wind to play with. Then the scud came, rain wind-driven in blinding sheets, forcing the cattle under the lee of the hedge and rattling on the thatched stack like hail. But soon all changed; the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and the sun found a gap through which it could shine cheerfully; the sheep in the stubbing shook themselves, showering rainbow-tinted drops from their heavy fleeces, and a few larks, rising some fifty feet or so above their chirruping comrades, sang joyfully. In the wood the bracken is yellow or brown, withering fast, but red campions still flower abundantly and there are blossoms on the brambles; these will never fruit, and many of the still red berries cannot ripen unless the sun has more continuous power.

The wind-lashed mere was flecked with white-capped waves, which broke in light spray even against the low-sunk bodies of the grebes and in actual foam against the bluff breasts of the sooty coots. In the shelter of the western wood were four herons, two on the swaying branches, two on mooring stumps, half opening their great wings occasionally when a fiercer gust than usual disturbed their balance; but a score of martins – young birds, too – continued their incessant fly-hunt, skimming this way or that, indifferent to wind or rain, and ready to nip at any gnat or small fly which ventured from its leafy shelter in the fitful gleams of sunshine.

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Source: Guardian Environment