The weather forecasters are issuing a warning of a huge storm system sweeping eastwards on the jet-stream over the Altantic. St Jude (it's due to hit land just after midnight on Monday, St Jude's day) may not be as bad as the Great Storm that flattened thousands of trees in 1987 or the Burns Day Storm in 1990, but we've been warned to . . . er? stay indoors and have a cup of tea, or something.
However, today dawned bright and breezy, the sky was a deep blue and clouds scudded briskly across the sky. I felt the need to get out there in the fields, to go for a walk.
Out along the footpath that follows the Stour Brook the gently sloping valley fields are bright green with young shoots of winter wheat and the trees in the woods have barely a tinge of autumnal tints.
I love the framed views through breaks in the hedgerows, as winter creeps toward us I'll look for migrating flocks of birds; and fallow deer and hares nibbling the crops. But today I was enjoying the sunshine, the sound of the wind in the trees and just being happy to stride out in my walking boots. If you follow me on Twitter you'll be aware of my slow recovery from Achilles problems which has meant months of not being able to walk far on uneven ground or to wear my boots. Well, I'm happy to report that I'm on the mend, the damage to the surrounds to my tendons is healing well and as long as I do as I'm told by the physio and the podiatrist, I'll be able to gradually build up to 6 or 7 mile walks this winter.
This is a huge relief, outside in the fields is where I gather inspiration and walking gently distils the ideas into images I jot down when I get back to my studio. Like the beautiful silver and faded gold of the Crack Willow leaves against the blue sky; or the crouched shapes of the woods.I walked as far as the derelict WWII Nissan huts where the Barn Owls live.
On the way home I noted the black Sloes in the hedgerows and made a mental note to check whether we have enough gin to make a bottle of Sloe Gin from the Sloes in our garden.
Of course my hand was full of leaves I couldn't resist picking up along the way . . . Oak, Hawthorn, Pear, Lime, Aspen, Dogwood, Gelder Rose and my favourite buttery yellow Field Maple.
So, if you're in the path of the St Jude's Day Storm tonight and tomorrow morning, don't get blown away and stay safe. Let's hope St Jude remains the patron of desperate causes and not synonymous with a devastating weather event.
"May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, glorified,
loved and preserved now and forever.
Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on us,
Saint Jude worker of Miracles, pray for us,
Saint Jude helper and keeper of the hopeless, pray for us,
Thank you Saint Jude."