Following the Tractor

When the combine has cut through the wheat,

The bailer tidied all loose ends

And The Downs have felt the drag of plough and harrow,

Swallows and martins scour the chalk field in hundreds

A restless gathering, swooping, sweeping low

From roadside wires and hedge tops

Assembling their collective will to flee

Our gloomy, damp, autumnal land

~

One flits by, teasing my unleashed hound

Another, passes that close to me

I hear its fine wings feathering the air

~

This strange summer’s end comes nigh

Marked by the breath of hirondelles brushing our crumbled turf

Their fleeting farewell kisses of Northern earth leave no mark

When they take temporary leave for Southern skies

~

CLP  30th August, 2020

Autumnal

On fields of decapitated barley, the hollow stubble full with last night’s rain, huge straw reels stand askew; great golden wheels left out to dry in the Sun, emitting a musty warmth, while fungi forms in dewy soil on which the geese reconvene to recommence their wintery discourse.

These large birds’ clacking beaks break into the day with husky talk in croaked, dawn-crack voices; the gabbling gaggle precedes the early calls of crows, blackbird and songs of rising larks, to signal our brief summer’s passing.

CLP 21/07/2020

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

.

CLP 16/10/2019

On the Land

Stained hands lift and cut

Bunches settle in buckets

Pressing work ahead

.

n.b. This is harvest time and the urgent work cannot be rushed. The atmosphere is filled with the scent of the ripe crop. At the caveaux in Villette lunch is served to the teams of workers. One caveaux is noticeably more sociable, louder, heartier than the others. The equipe spilling into the street as a cheery group, shares “bon jour” happily, invitingly with we passing walkers.

The wine from a previous vintage we tasted in Villette was delicious. It tasted as the scent that filled the air as we had walked down through the vines of Lavaux.

n.n.b. There are three workers in the picture, carefully cutting the grape bunches from the vines.

.

CLP 06/10/2019

On August XXI

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.

.

CLP 01/09/2019