These last are not low hanging
But harvest them we must
Ripened on the upper boughs
The topmost, sun-blushed fruit
Balanced between earth and sky
We climb and stretch
To where they sit
Well nigh, just out of reach
If there’s a slip, they ricochet from branch to trunk to orchard floor
Gashed and bruised in descent
These will be the first we eat
The rest, the best, the sweetest
We carry carefully to the winter store
Speckle tight canvas cover
Rain’s rhythm persists
n.b. Now there is plenty of rain. October in Somerset has been remarkably wet. The damp air has slowed the arrival of autumn colours, although grass is turning yellow where the roots have become saturated.
This afternoon I saw a washed out, pale pink earth worm writhing on the sodden lawn, after it had struggled to the surface in the middle of another intense period of the seemingly unceasing rain. The local blackbirds are happy for such gifts.
The water table will benefit and the streams will refill. However, in the local village, many house owners have replaced grass with hard-surfacing for car parking. This ground work increases surface run-off that puts pressure on the drainage system, designed before car ownership had reached current levels. Combined with erratic rain patterns that produce intense, or prolonged periods of precipitation, risks of flash flooding and water damage increase as a result of further moulding the land for the convenience of motorised transport.
Three years ago The Guardian published the following article, but the message does not seem to have got through.
Why concrete + rain = flash floods
Increasing pressure on local government finances, due to national government’s “Austerity” measures, has led to more street parking restrictions in residential areas. Residents then replace front gardens with personal car parking; this restricts street parking capacity because these car drivers need to access these spaces directly across the pavements, which encourages more property owners to convert gardens to car spaces. Then when it rains, flood risk rises as there is less natural soak-away for rainwater to filter through.
In the three years since this article there is little evidence of any reduction in the process of concreting over gardens, nor any inkling of acneed to reverse this process.
Blades stand in clear pools
Drowned roots without air turn pale
White flaccid worms float
Now gone with all else
Held in cloudy memories
Bottled and pickled
n.b. The serious work has begun to collect the fruit, vegetables and crops from the summer. What must be gathered from the orchard floor and stored for winter; what can be collected from the vine and pressed; what can be cut from the plant and eaten fresh, or kept dry; what can be picked from the over-burdened trees and turned to juice, or pickled, or made to jams and chutneys; what can be best preserved frozen?
The stoves burn, jars are sterilised, temperatures carefully monitored; steam and sweetness fill the home. Hair tied back, aprons on while the heat in the kitchen turns us pink and sticky too during these long satisfying hours before labelling bottles and still warm pots and cleaning up in the company of curious wasps and to the buzz of frustrated flies.
Morning’s welcome cool
Canvas sky hangs limp and pale
Ragwort bright as Sun