I had a new route to take this week; heading across town to a hospital unknown. Google maps estimated a forty minute walk, so I slung my course books in a bag (anticipating a significant wait when I got there) and stepped into the streets. This year, water has been somewhat short in supply for full-size trees and the Limes which shade the streets in my area are flushed with yellow and super-heavy with seeds. Already a drop of leaves has left the streets rustling. The front gardens are beginning to pick up a slightly crisp look, as the handsome perennials start to crisp at the edges, clematis stems browning and roses going to drop and spot.
I'm trying to get back into the habits of walking new streets at the moment. Last week I had the chance to take a wood-in-the-city bike/pedestrian route I'd not walked since I lived in that area of town. It felt like Autumn already, all fruit growing out of the back of gardens and berries glowing from the hedges.
But the air was heavy with scent, and I smelt it again today. Late August and early September is Eglantine or Traveller's Joy, more commonly known by its hedgerow name of Old Man's Beard, our native Clematis, scrambling over the hard lines of municipal Robinia, and through the random exclamations of buddleia. This year it has flowered in giddy profusion, creating a drunken mass of flowers buzzing with bees and hoverflies, and the first of the wasps giving up on the summer and turning to nectar in death-driven desperation.
On the route to the hospital is seemed to be growing at every corner, waving cheerfully at the traffic fumes on the A roads, sneaking stealthily into the front gardens, knocking on the windows at the hospital itself. Although that might have been its cultivated cousin, Fragrant Oberon. I have an Oberon in a pot, while I have it. It's been losing a fight against something for months though. Probably weevils.
Wild Clematis en masse smells almost like Oberon. A little wilder.