October (III)

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

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CLP 16/10/2019

October (I)

Irregular beats

Speckle tight canvas cover

Rain’s rhythm persists

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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.

CLP 11/0/2019

On August XXI

Now gone with all else

Held in cloudy memories

Bottled and pickled

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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.

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CLP 01/09/2019