First snow

The night was cold

by morning the flakes were falling soft yet damp
the yew tree branches bright with snow
the house is warm as I sip tea in bed
wrapped in my winter cover.
Our neighbours’ kids are thrilled
their mum as well –
it doesn’t snow in Thailand
and last year none lay on the ground.
They’re making a snow dragon
with gourds for eyes and carrot nose
the wings present a problem
and they settle for the normal
huge round body, smaller round head.
But throwing snowballs at dad
is the best fun.
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Harringworth Lodge

The early morning sun has not yet melted
ice on puddles which Ed cracks with his stick.
Too thin to bear our weight.
There is a hint of cloud to come.
One route should cross new-ploughed fields
of heavy clods and sticky mud.
Instead we climb a metal gate
and make our way along the grassy track.
Across the valley is Seaton on its hill,
with church and houses sharp in sunlight.
The viaduct stretches its many arches
over the Welland water meadows.
This morning we are five, and paces vary.
I show the others where we might have walked
with heavy-laden boots – this track is better.
Today no long-horned cattle in the field,
sheep in plenty grazing, hardy beasts.
A horse canters across the grass,
a red kite glides on thermals overhead.
At the Jurassic Way we turn towards the lake
The sun has left us, and the wind is chill.
Today there’ll be no blue-gold photos,
though persistent autumn leaves hang on.
We turn from the path to shelter in the trees
and ambush the three others when they come.
Time for the scones and flasks of coffee
the pause a part of walking, a moment to breathe and look.
We turn and face the wind, heading for home
past woods where deer live and loggers work
the path is muddy, grass is wet.
Eddie’s impatient now, and soon outpaces
the slower walkers, charging on ahead.
He knows the way, I say, we’re on home turf,
and soon he’s out of sight and out of mind.
We make our way back at our leisure
and then we go our separate ways
with words to plan next week’s excursion
a little further maybe, we shall see!

Foxton Locks

A blue bright morning
golden leaves in the sun
the canal is mirror smooth
with perfect reflections

 

 

painted narrowboats
houses, trees, the sky
in replica below.
Across the cut huge houses with gardens
tables and chairs by the waterside
two canoes sleeping on the water.
The nearside is home to smaller dwellings
fenced off from the towpath
gates locked against the world.
Boats cruise by, the boaters waving
one hand on the tiller
and the other on a cup of tea.
Dogs and their people take their daily walk.
Bridges and reflections form near circles
yellow leaves blanket the water
reeds and weeds with seeds dance in the wind
fieldfares are in the hedges
– the first this year
flying from Scandinavian cold
By the lockside pub
we sit with coffee and a sandwich.
Hopeful swans and ducks swim near
 – they’re disappointed –
one swears at a too-nosey dog.
Boats wait their turn to use the stair of locks
there’s comradeship in lock life.
With bellies filled we set off back
the sun has gone
a mini-shower sprinkles the canal.
we have the wind behind us
and walk at quite a pace
with plenty of breath to talk.
Cue for a rendition of “Bill and Ben”

 

Goats with mouths of steel eating hawthorn twigs

 

Tame as you like.
Harry walks a little way ahead
suddenly he stops  -” shh – a kingfisher”
sitting on a willow branch,
all blue and orange brown
it flashes like a blue arrow above the water
a bird that always makes the day sublime.

Windfalls

sign in the orchard –
Judge Amphlett pears for perry
please help yourself!

they lay on the ground
abundant windfalls though small
we helped ourselves,

carried the spoils home –
all week they sat in a bowl
till I peeled and cored.

not a great harvest –
enough for a small crumble
flavoured with ginger …

worth the effort?
half an hour of memories
foraging the years.

October evening – memory

A poem i once wrote and cannot find – probably had a somewhat different take on this!

One October evening my friend and I 
– we must have been about thirteen
the age when everything shimmers
with promise or threat.

One October evening
not warm, not cold,
just a shiver in the air.

We were walking to the farm 
at the top of the hill
on the edge of town.

We told each other stories
of werewolves and demons
and long-legged lovers
– entangled.
 
Each whisper of wind
each owl call
each creaking branch outlined 
against the blue-blackening sky
fuelled our October-fevered brains.

We caught sight of
a harvest moon hung low 
and orange near the horizon.

We bought half a dozen fresh-laid eggs
and carefully carried them back
to our warm homes
enriched by October.