Natural Choreography

My trip to the nature reserve at Minsmere which I wrote about yesterday I now realise was curtailed too early. I had wondered why so many people were arriving at the RSPB reserve so late in the day. The clear evening skies were the perfect backdrop to see the glorious balletic murmurations of thousands of starlings above the reed beds.

murmuration

[Photo: woodlandtrust.org]

It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of starlings in these groups as they perform these enigmatic shows.

 

Feather pillows in the sky

Sink and sway and undulate

Display of beauty to the eye

Swoop and gracefully gyrate

What instinct produces such a skill

That gives we onlookers such a thrill?

Seasonal Change

Out walking with the dog I occasionally take a short detour to see what is happening on the neighbouring farmland. The last time I looked there was a lush ocean of golden corn, ripened in the very hot sunshine that we were then experiencing. Now we are into a new month and a new season with cooler and wetter weather. The field has taken on an entirely new aspect. The harvest has been taken in and the soil has been turned, awaiting a planting for the winter.

Suffolk Skyline

Summer has subsided into September days,

where sun’s rays now slant lower in the sky,

and cool clouds slide slowly by on a soft breeze.

These are the moments when time turns.

The field stands empty after the harvest party.

The turned soil has earned a rest, breathing in

the early autumnal air,

its damp, earthy exhalations are a fragrant flavour

of the new season.

Ferocious Francis

After the particularly hot weather in recent weeks, which gave record temperatures in some parts of the country, the gardens were looking in real need of a good soaking. A hosepipe is never a substitute for a good drop of rain. The arrival of storm Francis from the Atlantic, however, has provided more than just a drop, but very welcome nevertheless. Although we could have done without the high winds which accompanied this visitor.

Of course, there is no comparison to the devastating and destructive hurricanes and typhoons in other parts of the world, but as I looked out of my window, seeking inspiration for something to write about, the images of the buffeted trees drew some words from me.

A rage of rain batters the streets

And fleeces the trees of loose leaves

Which whirl and spiral in a slew

Of breath-breaking gusts

Until thrust into a gush

Of guttered water.

Branches dance in chaotic symmetry:

A choreographic nuance that repeats

And repeats

As this storm beats out

Its unassuaged anger.

Memory Lapses

On a recent trip away I came across a space of open parkland which a notice informed me was a former cemetery. I have to say that I felt a little uncomfortable walking across an area where people were still buried. But I suppose pragmatically speaking, how many visitors would there be to the graves of persons who had died some two hundred years before? For those who trace family trees and carry out historical research, detailed data is now kept on digital records without the need for tombstones. These headstones I discovered were stacked in piles against the wall surrounding the area like some stone age cataloguing system.

Memory Cards

Weathered words. Sentiments sequestered in time,

Masked in a lichen that has lingered long.

Is it wrong to tear away these monuments

to men and women whose lives had meaning,

and whose memories were worth carving?

Souls do not survive in inscriptions on slabs

of stone. This once hallowed ground is now home

only to bones, and the lush grass a testament

to Nature’s timeless turning of seasons

and the reasons that Death is a renewal of Life.

Split Infinity

Having been confined to the same area for several months, it’s made a refreshing change to get away for a week to a different part of the country. Refreshing not only to find a place I’ve never been to before but also because the oppressively hot weather has subsided into something more akin to a British summer i.e. rain and thunderstorms, which has at least freshened things up a bit.

We have rented a cottage in a small town a few hours drive away. Many of the towns in this area are steeped in history and Louth in Lincolnshire is no exception. One of the features that I was unaware of until walking down the main thoroughfare is that the Greenwich Meridian, the line of 0 degrees longitude runs through the middle of the street. It is therefore possible to be in both the western and eastern hemispheres at the same time.

meridian

A line where time begins and ends

A line where each day starts

A line on which each clock depends

Where the world splits in two parts.

A line where East and West both meet

With a value shown as nought.

And running through this simple street.

Well, who would have thought?

Moving across this magic line,

I feel that nothing varies.

No exotic shifts in time,

From the Orient to Wild West prairies.

Whatever place I happen to go

There is always something I learn.

Even without this plaque I know

The world will continue to turn.

The Heat is On

Not a drop of rain for well over a week now, and none expected for a few more days yet, when it is meant to arrive in the form of heavy thunderstorm showers. It is not only the lack of rain but the unseasonal and unreasonable soaring temperatures that is causing the greater discomfort. No matter how much hosepipe water is applied to the garden, it is clearly no substitute for a good soaking of rain from the sky. The flowers all appear to have a helpless look about them, or perhaps the heat is just getting to me.

Water, water!

Three haikus of heat

Wilting flowers bow

In submission to the Sun:

Nature’s supreme source

 

Waves of humid heat

Hamper all thought and action

Shrivels energy

 

Heat quivers the air

Shade – a shallow oasis

We await the rain

Playtime Postponed

This is the time of year when the drama group which I belong to would have been performing our shorter Shakespeare productions in the gardens of local public houses in Suffolk. Sadly, this year’s planned production of The Tempest was never going to be possible. We can only hope that a year hence life will have returned to normal, or as normal as anything could be after this. I felt a sonnet might be appropriate.

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day,

wherein a virus creeps with rampant ease,

among the beaches where foolhardy play?

Thou art much more aware of this disease;

and if we are to purge this foul-faced bug,

do not assist its course. It may seem mean,

we must resist a handshake or a hug:

its journey is both light and quite unseen.

A plethora of deaths ought indicate

the consequence that might befall us all,

but rules and guidelines seem to complicate

a strategy that is not ours to call.

For future generations there are stories to unfold

of many sides of many tales and how they will be told.

Coffee Break

Out for a rare trip to a neighbouring town today in search of a bank, and also to give the car a much needed run to prevent the battery from completely dying. An extremely hot day to be wearing a mask but essential if we are to see an end to this pandemic. A particular high point was Sally’s suggestion that she treat me to a coffee and snack at a coffee chain I used to visit quite regularly before lockdown. Only two other customers in the place and so we felt quite socially distanced. The coffee was like nectar, but it was more the partial return to normality, despite the screens, the masks, the visors, the tape across the tables and chairs and on the floors, that was succour for the mind and soul.

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

It wasn’t the buzz of the caffeine

It wasn’t the taste of the bean

It wasn’t the smell of the coffee

It wasn’t the swirl of the cream

It was the joy of sitting together

And the joy of being outside

It was the joy of enjoying the summer

And of taking the car for a ride

This pandemic is a long way from over

And they say there’ll be more of the same

But these moments are ones we must savour

To save us from going insane

Forgotten Field

Summer is finally here and it is liberating to be able to take an occasional walk in the warm weather, and enjoy the solitude of the countryside. Fields of corn have been harvested and acres of unattractive stubble remain. But occasionally, a meadow will come into view where grass and wild flowers intermingle in a glorious cavalcade of colour. They seem to be forgotten areas, but are often intentionally left uncultivated to create natural ecosystems.

A simple sky and a forgotten field,

where the wild flowers compete

amongst the tall stems

to draw the bees with vivid displays

of pinks and oranges,

blues and yellows.

A somnolent hum is all that is heard

within the ancient hedgerows,

and a breathless hush of grasses

brushed by the breeze.

Caws and Effect

A day of mixed weather today with cloud, sunshine, heavy showers and a stunning sunset. While I was out in the garden taking pictures of the sunset’s gilded cloud layers, hundreds of crows flew noisily overhead, returning to their evening roosting sites, which I found remarkably relaxing and life-affirming. Corvid not covid.

Corvid commuters return to their roost,

raking the sunset skies with noisy exchanges

of the sort of day they had,

and splinter the evening calm

with their callous calling.

Caws and effect.

The delicate tinge to cloud tips

is undisturbed by the cacophony,

which is but a brief signature

for the end of another day of light and life.

Trumpet Voluntary

It was only fairly recently when tending my small vegetable plot that I noticed something growing where I had yet to plant anything. The initial shoots had the appearance of a potato plant and I was told that this was quite a common occurrence where potatoes had previously been planted and where some had been overlooked in harvesting and had been left in the ground. These, I was told, were termed ‘volunteers’.

In light of the effort made by this lone plant, I left it to establish itself and to produce more offspring.

Image preview

Healthy and robust with an attractive flower trumpet head, it provided a handful of small tasty potatoes.

Volunteer

You lay low in your isolation

through winter frost, awaiting the moment

for your surprise entrance,

bursting forth amidst the brassica,

brazenly belittling the beans,

flaunting lush foliage,

topped with a delicate flower

to signal that all was well below.