Sunday, 31 May 2009

It's that time of year again...

Years ago, the whole of the farming year in this part of the country depended upon the right weather conditions to get in the hay. Then, with the "invention" of silage it didn't matter quite as much. To get good hay the weather has to be hot and dry for some days until the grass completely dries out. With silage this is not quite so important. With hay it was one crop each Summer. Now, with intensive farming and good fertilising, it is not uncommon to get three crops of silage from each field.
So, after a few days of good weather, every farmer in the dale is cutting. The farmer was up early (I really think it is his favourite job) and already two fields are down - one more to go for this first crop. Tess and I made the journey up to the big mill lane field, which he cut first, so that I could take a photograph.
There is always danger to wildlife - curlew, partridge, pheasant, oyster catcher, snipe - all could be nesting in the field. The farmer keeps his eyes peeled but there are always casualties. When he came in at lunch time he said he had seen a mother pheasant coaxing her large brood out of a clump of grass he was about to cut. So he left it over the lunch hour and has now gone back. He will walk through the grass to make sure they have gone before he cuts it - so that is one little brood that has been saved.
The field margins are always left as you will see in the photograph of the cut grass. This margin often has partridge nests as they like to nest near to a hedge. Tomorrow afternoon the forage harvester will be in gathering up the limp grass and blowing it into the trailer for transporting to the silage clamp. Then the dairy herd from next door will be in the next day to "pike" - that is our local dialect word for eating up the grass that is left.
There is a smell of cut grass in the air, the sun is shining and you can hear various silaging activity going on all around on the neighbouring farms.
Tomorrow I shall try to catch the forager and photograph it - but the fields are quite a long way from the house and picking up the grass in that way is not a long job.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Just an ordinary Saturday.

The weather is so glorious that I have become quite indolent, wafting through the meadows with Tess, brushing against the buttercups and getting pollen all over my trouser legs, stopping to sniff the may blossom. noticing little clumps of wild flowers here and there - nothing in a rush.

For the farmer, however, things are very different for the Silage Season is upon us. Today he has got his Grass Cutter out of cold storage and sharpened it. Tomorrow morning, once the dew is gone from the grass, he will be cutting the big meadows ready for the sub-contract silage men to come and forage it on Monday afternoon.

For the uninitiated, there are really two kinds of silage. If you see the machinery in the fields after the grass is cut, sometimes it is a forage harvester, which gathers up the grass and blows it into a trailer to be carted off to a silage clamp; other times there will be a rower, a baler and a wrapper, so that the grass is heaped up into rows, baled into round bales (sometimes square bales) and then wrapped in black or pale green plastic. These bales are then gathered up and transported to a spare corner of the farm for storage until winter. If you wonder why they are gathered up so quickly, it is because the rooks just love attacking them and making holes in the plastic - that lets the air in and stops the curing process.

This morning I met friends for coffee in our little market town. We do this most Saturday mornings. What would we do without friends? I got to wondering - is this just a woman thing?

Do men meet their men friends - I suppose they do for a beer sometimes, but the groups one sees sitting around in cafes and pubs are usually women. Or is it that it is usually women who are left alone as they on average have a longer life span. I don't know the answer - but maybe some of you men out there can tell me - do you meet friends for a natter? My friends are a great comfort and support to me - they are an important and essential part of my life.

While out on my walk I managed to snap these two Swaledale lambs - so pretty and if you look carefully you will see that their horns are already growing.

Tomorrow I hope to capture some silaging photographs. The weather forecast is superb for a few days so we shall not have to be scanning the sky for rain clouds; that will make a change from the last few years. We might even get a bit of haymaking later in June.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Special Day.

Today is one of those days where you want to take a photograph in your mind and store it away, to be brought out in one of the dark days before Christmas, when it is raw, wet and foggy and you have to have the light on in the house all day in order to see what you are doing.
The temperature is in the seventies, there is a light breeze blowing from the South, the sky is almost unbroken blue, and the air is filled with the heady, almondy scent of the hawthorn blossom - out at last but fairly scarce this year
Our afternoon walk has been one of pure bliss. Every field is golden with buttercups. Thousands of dandelion clocks gently send their seed off on their expedition to find a resting place. In the beck the blue water forget me not and the white water crowfoot vie for your attention. A mallard and her little brood of ducklings weave their way through the flowers in the beck - mother quietly quacking to keep her brood round her as she hurries to the shelter of a clump of water iris, where she thinks I can't see her.
In the long meadow the Timothy grass has gone to seed and there is a blue haze over the top of the grass - I hope you can see it in the photograph. Tess is just in shot - she of course is looking for those baby rabbits. I guess they are all below ground keeping cool for not a set of long ears in sight.
Today - May 29th - is Royal Oak Day - the commemoration of the day on which the future Charles II hid in an oak tree at Boscobel House, avoiding the Roundheads who were looking for him and later - in disguise - fleeing to France. The English Civil War in the mid Seventeenth Century seems a long time ago, but when I was a child in rural Lincolnshire in the thirties, we had the afternoon off for Royal Oak day. We had a rhyme:

Royal Oak Day, the twenty-ninth of May,
If we don't have a holiday we'll all run away.

We left school at lunchtime wearing a sprig of oak in our buttonholes. If you didn't wear the oak then you had to run the gauntlet of the boys who hung about with bunches of stinging nettles.
So many of those customs have died out now - it is lovely to look back and remember them.
Enjoy the summer while it lasts - last year we didn't seem to have any of those days when the only sounds were the buzzing of the bees and the faraway drone of a distant aeroplane. Bliss!
The lane is lined with meadowsweet as though decorated for a wedding (Oberon and Titania?).

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Beautiful meadows.

I wish you could all see the beauty of our meadows today. The sky is deep blue and the fields are all buttercup-rich. I tried laying down in the grass (laying down was easy - but oh the getting up again!) and taking photographs, as it struck me that all the small creatures who live in the fields would find them like an impenetrable jungle now. The result is on my header - but it will only be on for a short while until I can take a better one - there is a very strong South west wind blowing across the buttercups at present. I make no excuses for adding another photograph of the two brood mares and their foals - that was also taken a few minutes ago on my afternoon walk with Tess. The little foals are already wearing halters - they start 'em young in the racing world.

Juliet of Crafty Green Poet has kindly named me for an award. I am proud to say that after much trial and error I have even got it onto my blog without my son's help - so thank you Juliet, it is much appreciated.

I have to name fifteen people I would like to pass it on to. I can't possibly do that. All the people on my blog list give me hours of pleasant reading and lots of food for thought - not to say laughs, ideas, and all manner of pleasantries. So if you are on my blog list and have put something on your blog within the last fortnight - then I hereby suggest that - if you like - you help yourself to the award as a thankyou from me.

In the meantime here are a few more mouse's eye views to enjoy.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

From the sublime to the corblimey!

All small creatures are lovely - even baby mice have a certain appeal (not, I hasten to add, to the farmer!) and this is definitely the time of the year for small creatures. On Sunday morning, as we drove over the moor above the Mallerstang in Upper Wensleydale, we saw the semi-wild horses up there. Piebald and heavy-hooved, they have lived up on the tops for a long time. They are quite tame and almost come up to the car - but they fend for themselves in all but the
harshest weather. There is one stallion - a big chap with a fiery look to his nostrils - best to keep your distance from him. And of course, from now on there will no doubt be a crop of foals.
So far there appears to be one - the photograph above is as near as I could get to him/her. As we approached he dashed in for a quick drink at the milk bar and then settled down behind his mum. Already, even at this distance, you can see that the foal is a little toughie
There is one field in between our fields that does not form part of our farm. It belongs to one of the racing stables in Middleham. Middleham, three miles away, is a great centre for horse-racing trainers - there are seventeen training establishments there including people like Mark Johnston, Ferdy Murphy, Patrick Haslam. Racing is big business and the horses get five star treatment. In the Winter they are stabled indoors. But this week, now that the temperature is warming up a bit, some of the racehorses have left their pampered life in the stables and have come to the field of buttercups. And how they love it.
The field is split into two. In the bottom half are three young fillies - their legs do not look strong enough to carry their bodies. They gallop up and down the field, full of the joy of being out in the fresh air I suspect. They don't know they are top-of-the-range race horses, any more than the birds know it is Wednesday today. In the top half of the field are two brood mares and their foals. The mothers are very protective, but they are used to being handled, so if you stand still long enough they come fairly near - but they are far too "snooty" to come for a stroke.
I am sorry the photos are a bit distant - but this is as near as I could get, and I did want to share with you these beautiful creatures.
So we have the wild, shaggy, free-as-air piebalds and the pampered, cossetted race horses trained to win the big races. But when it comes to the foals - there is only one perfect foal and every mare has it.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

New York! New York!

Up here in the Yorkshire Dales we lead a very quiet and orderly life - eating our meals at the same time each day, fitting in with the farming year and the seasons, having friends round for dinner in the evening, walking the lanes. So it is hardly surprising that when it comes to holidays we are quite happy to go on energetic ones. Also we are both agreed that we like to see as many places as possible.So this year we planned a marathon lightning tour - 2 days in Montreal, call at Ottawa en route for two days in Toronto, on to Niagara and over the border into New York State, staying overnight in Albany. Then through to the coast - two days in Boston, two days in New York, two days in Philadelphia and Baltimore and the finishing up with the last two days in WashingtonDC. This meant living out of suitcases, getting up early (never difficult for farmers),and constantly moving on. It was very tiring.The low point came as we left Boston for New York. I think everyone was feeling pretty jaded (there were 22 in our party). Certainly the farmer and I were a bit apprehensive about NY - noisy, busy and all that - was it going to be our "cup of tea."As we approached the big apple the driver of our coach, a Canadian called Mikey - splendid chap - said we all had to look forward "at about two o'clock" as we got to the bridge. "Don't take your eyes off that two o'clock spot" he called. We all looked and then, suddenly the New York skyline came into brilliant view. At that precise moment he put on the music, Frank Sinatra singing New York New York. There wasn't a dry eye on the coach!! Tired, jaded? Not us - we were raring to go. What to do in two days. Well here is what we did.

1. The highlight - we met Elizabeth of New York blog fame, crossed to Fifth Avenue by taxi, had coffee in a super little coffee house and went round an exhibition of German expressionism (there was a marvellous Klimt which I have seen pictures of - so exciting to see the real thing).Then returned to our hotel by bus.2. Had a cruise round Manhattan island, taking in various bridges, the skyline and the Statue of Liberty
3 Had a walk in Central Park.4. Went along Fifth Avenue and saw Tiffany's and Macy's.5, Went in Trump Tower - all glitzy marble (the farmer went to the loo and was very impressed with the fittings and fixtures! Wish I had gone!)6. Went down to the waterfront at night and had a super dinner in a restaurant overlooking Brooklyn Bridge - went out on to the balcony of the restaurant and took a photograph of the bridge lights.7. Went to Ground Zero - now in the process of being rebuilt - so all boarded up. But we saw the church which became such a focal point for all those rescue workers. We marvelled at the sheer size and nearness of the surrounding buildings. Later we saw the memorial - and theart work which was rescued though damaged and now waits to be put back when the building is finished, as a memorial.8. Went across to New Jersey on the ferry and then returned after dark to see the lights of NY from over the water.On one afternoon there was a torrential downpour and we spent the afternoon in our hotel room, our armchairs drawn up to the window, watching street life below. That was restful and also fascinating - there were some super pampered dogs went past on leads.Now we have been home a fortnight - we are no longer jetlagged and are feeling fit as fleas. all the way home we said we thought we were getting past all this travelling and that maybe this would be the last long distance holiday we did. Now, after a fortnight to recuperate we are wondering whether it might be exciting to go to the Yukon next year
Enjoy the photographs. From the top:
An iconic image in Trump Tower
Art Exhibition with Elizabeth.
Central Park.
Statue of Liberty.
Brooklyn Bridge at night.
New York from New Jersey.

Monday, 25 May 2009

In praise of English Wildflowers.

When you go to any Mediterranean country in the Spring, you are aghast at the colour of the wild flowers - the reds, blues and yellows that paint the hillsides. Our English wildflowers are
something different, as befits our more temperate climate. Their paler colours, their subtlety - they blow me over every year in late May.
Yesterday, in spite of our rule never to go out on a Bank Holiday weekend, we drove through Wensleydale to Ravenstonedale for lunch at our favourite restaurant The Black Swan. En route, as always, we stopped and had a walk with Tess at Cotter Force. It is soon Appleby Horse Fair week and all along the sides of the road Travellers' horses were tethered, enjoying the lush grass. In places we were held up by horse-pulled bow topped caravans making their way there. And all along the way we were overtaken by scores of middle-aged bikers enjoying the open road on their high-powered motor bikes (a whole generation of Mr. Toads!), so the quarter mile walk from the road down to Cotter Force was a little haven of peace and quiet on the journey.
It was also a revelation of wildflowers. That so many can grow in profusion along the side of the stream in such a short distance just fills me with joy at our wonderful countryside.
So here for you today is a celebration of English Wildflowers. Apart from the top two, which we taken this morning in our paddock, all of these flowers were growing in that quarter mile stretch in their thousands. Enjoy.
From the top: Our English buttercup meadow.
Sorrel in the meadow.
Cow parsley (motherdie)
Mysotis (forget-me-not)
Stellaria (stitchwort)
Geranium (cranesbill)
Veronica speedwell (birds' eye)
Pink campion.
Geranium (herb Robert)

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Poetry - criticism please!

A few words in yesterday's paper sparked off a train of thought which eventually became this poem. I took it out to coffee yesterday where my poet friend (much, much better than me) gave it the once over and advised on small changes. Now I am throwing it open to all you readers. What do you think of it - would you make changes? I shall give it its final airing at our next Writers' Group meeting in a fortnight. So in the meantime, if you feel like it, please leave a comment and/or a suggestion for improvement.


A bubble of history
floats -
without meaning or desire -
like a puff of breath,
triggered by some sound,
or smell or trick
of emotional alchemy.

I see the Hindenburg,
a low menacing hum,
a grotesque bulk,
and I am three again.

I hate going backwards.

A bird sings.
The bubble bursts.
Then I see deep, green hills
touching low, dark clouds.

A drop of rain falls on my hand.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Farmers' Markets.

On our first visit to Canada fifteen years ago, we spent a week in Toronto and one of the things which really impressed us was the huge Farmers' Market there. We trecked down to it from our hotel, expecting to see a few stalls of farmers selling their wares. What we saw was a revelation - acres upon acres of fruit, vegetables, flowers, meat, dairy products - all of excellent quality and beautifully set out. This year we did the same thing in Ottawa. Here the market was outdoors but the stalls were set out to perfection and there was a real buzz. Last year we found exactly the same in places we called at in Texas and New Mexico.
We do have a Farmer's Market here - on the fourth Saturday in the month, but compared with those over the pond ours is a very sad affair. At the most we have a dozen stalls - two or three selling plants and herbs, one with buffalo meat, one with rare breed pork, a wine stand, two cake stalls and a cheese stall - and sometimes an organic vegetable stall.
But then, when I think about it, we are a very small market town and the surrounding rural area is peppered with keen vegetable gardeners. What we have seen in North America has been in large cities, where nobody has that kind of opportunity.
However, even our tiny one makes the fourth Saturday a special day for me. I always collect my elderly (87) friend and take her into town, where we meet another friend (and her little Jack Russell dog, Sophie) for coffee. We go round the market and buy the odd thing (this morning I bought two Gloucester Old Spot and Wild Boar pies which we had for lunch - delicious) then repair to The Golden Lion where we sit in the window, looking out over the market square ,and have endless coffee. And, of course, there is no shortage of talk! I am sure somebody reading this blog will be able to tell us of larger, more successful Farmers' Markets in some of our larger towns, but I can't help feeling we have a long way to go to catch up with those pictured in Ottawa, above. No prizes for guessing which is which from the photographs!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Six things that make me happy.

Reader Wil has tagged me to list six things which make me happy. I was surprised how difficult it was to actually put them into words, but here they are. Happiness is often fleeting, isn't it. I do get sudden bursts of happiness - sometimes just seeing the farmer walk down the drive and realising how lucky I am to have met him, or having a long chat with my son (which often turns into a "friendly" argument), or seeing all my grandchildren sitting round the table together, talking. But I have listed six specific times when I know I shall feel happy:-

1. Sitting out in the Dales somewhere with a glorious view and revelling in the fact that I actually live here.
2. Knowing that all my family are well and happy.
3. Walking with my dog in the lanes around the farm and looking for wildflowers and birds.
4. Sitting by a log fire on a winter's evening with a good book.
5. Meeting a group of friends and family in the evening for a meal and a chat.
6. Closing the farm gate and getting into the taxi at the beginning of a holiday.

Now I am supposed to tag six people too. Instead I would invite anyone who reads my blog to ponder on what makes them happy and - if they feel like it - to commit it to cyberspace. Just off to complete number 3 now!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Look what happened to my bundle!!

Various readers of my blog have suggested that some small creature may have taken up residence inside my bundle (oh I do hope so!) but nothing had prepared me to something taking up residence OUTSIDE my bundle. On Tuesday morning the farmer came in and suggested i take a look in the rowan tree - and this is what I saw.

Alas, I blamed my son (it is his kind of humour) but he was quick to point out that he was not the culprit. That left only one other possibility - a friend with a similar sense of humour. Finally, yesterday, she owned up to the prank!

So the photograph above is being added to "The Life of Bundle" - any day now he/she/it is coming down to be transformed into an art work for Seth. I have half a mind to run over it several times in the car to flatten it (and hopefully spread some of the colour through) - for my goodness me that Times is awfully good protection. This morning we had a torrential downpour and already the hot sun has dried the bundle out. It has certainly taken on a life of its own. I shall miss it when it comes down - but shall not miss the mask!!

The farmer put the mask in the dustbin - friend retrieved it, saying she might be able to scare a few trick or treaters by wearing it herself on Hallowe'en.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Exactitude is not always the truth (Henri Matisse)

There is one thing which, throughout the whole of our lives, we never, ever see. That is our own face. The only thing we become familiar with is our mirror image. Yet we know our own face intimately - the curve of the brow, the shape of the nose, the blemish on the cheek.

We recognise ourselves, our friends, celebrities in pictures in the newspapers, in photographs. Maybe a profile might flummox us for a while, but full face hardly ever.

It used to be said that to "Westerners" it was much more difficult to differentiate between the faces of the so-called "pure" races - say the Chinese and the Japanese. This may still be so.

The cartoonist can create a caricature which is instantly recognisable by emphasising just one feature - Tony Blair's "smile", Prince Charles's "ears", Gordon Brown's "bags under his eyes."

I have been reading a piece written by Henri Matisse for a retrospective in Philadelphia in 1947. Included in the exhibition were four line drawings of his face - all very different - yet all obviously Matisse.

The upper part of the face is the same in all four drawings but the lower part varies. In one the jaw is square and massive, in another the chin is elongated, the third - drawn at a slight angle - has a pointed chin and the fourth is totally different from the other three - yet all are obviously Matisse.

He likens this to the leaves on a fig tree, saying there can be quite a difference in the form of the leaves yet each is united by that common quality "fig leaf." The same, he says , applies to all vegetable forms and all fruit - they can have so many different characteristics yet all marrows are obviously marrows, all lemons, lemons.

In the case of his four drawings he says the elements are still always wedded in each drawing with the same feelings:-the way the nose lies on the face, the way the spectacles hang on the nose, the same tension in the gaze. His point is that inexactitude in a representation does not detract from the expression of character or the inherent truth of the personality - in fact these little inexactitudes help to clarify. As he says, "Exactitude is not necessarily truth."

One is reminded of the Graham Sutherland portrait of Winston Churchill which his wife, Clemmie, hated so much that she burned it. Had Sutherland, by inexactitudes, shown aspects of Churchill's character in his face which Clemmie couldn't tolerate?

The portrait at the top is of me at 17.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Come on out! I know you're down there!

Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Peter, their brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grannies and grandads - they are everywhere. Did you know that ten rabbits graze as much grass as one cow? Well, there are tens of tens in our pastures. They are driving Tess insane as they pop down their holes at the last minute when she is in hot pursuit.
And even worse, they have penetrated the flower garden. Sitting looking out of the window, admiring the aquelegia, a tiny brown long-eared creature suddenly hops up, sniffs the bloom and begins to nibble. It is such a pretty little thing that there is a terrible temptation to just go "aah" and let it be. Not that we can do much else really.
The farm cats are adept at catching young rabbits and have not been fed for days - they go on a hunt, carry the poor lifeless form back to the hay barn, gorge on it and then sleep it off, their barrelled stomachs moving in gentle rhythm as they snore away the afternoon.
Myxomatosis will soon be about again. This happens every year. We get a huge crop of rabbits and then suddenly, one day, we begin to find desperately ill, blind creatures lurking in the hedgerow. The farmer is very humane and puts them out of their misery. It is a cruel, man-introduced disease. I know rabbits are a pest but they don't deserve that fate.
So, for the time being, I am enjoying seeing tiny rabbits hopping about round the house, sitting on the lawn, nibbling the pansies. Tess (and the farmer) is enraged but I know that their life is a short one. Before long the vast majority of them will die and only the few strong ones will remain to start again, so that it all happens again next year.
In the meantime, here is a rabbits eye view of a few of my garden flowers - sweet woodruff,
viola (doesn't that little face look indignant!),ajuga, rock aquelegia, solomon's seal and aquelegia.
Wish I could kid you that these photos were taken by that rabbit, but you wouldn't believe me, would you?

Monday, 18 May 2009

Call me early, mother dear..........

........,for I'm to be Queen of the May. "The May Queen" is one of Tennyson's poems which is really dated when you read it. If you don't know it then I urge you to read it because it does have echoes of earlier times - an age that has almost disappeared in this "modern" twenty-first century. It falls into the same category as Flora Thompson 's "Lark Rise to Candleford." And how we loved that series on our televisions recently - nostalgia, nostalgia.Also, if you have never looked closely at hawthorn blossom I urge you to do that too - close up it is exquisite, although why it is called May blossom in North yorkshire I don't know - it should be June blossom.David, the farmer, can remember when they celebrated May Day up here - when he was a child.They would select a May Queen, dress her in white and parade round the village, ending up with the rest of the children dancing round the maypole. The custom dates back to pagan times and is one of many to celebrate Spring's coming (before the days of electricity and central heating I would guess that Spring would be very welcome indeed.)The word May is always a bit confusing - May blossom flowering in June and the old saying "Ne'er cast a clout till May be out!" - people up here still argue about whether that means the May blossom or the month of May. Judging by today' s weather, anyone who has cast a clout already will be hastily putting it back on.The whole thing is surrounded in folk lore and superstition. Some believe that in pagan times the May Queen was sacrificed after the parade. Well, we shall never know, shall we. But Ido know that in Britten's "Albert Herring", being unable to source a May Queen they settle for a May King instead! Can't see them sacrificing a King in pagan times - it always seemed to be young virginal girls, didn't it?One day soon May blossom will burgeon here and the air will be filled with that heady, slmondy scent. But it is a long time coming, so meanwhile I shall enjoy the tiny bit out on the hedge, which I have photographed above.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

To Old Bennington.

Last week we visited Old Bennington in Vermont - the Green Mountains State. It was a Sunday morning and (to quote a poet) not a breath of wind, not a leaf stirred. The whole village was a living Picture Postcard, no weeds, no cars, no movement - although it was almost eleven o'clock there was no sign of life. So much so that we began to think it was a village of second homes.

As we walked down Monument Avenue towards the church here and there people began to emerge - quietly, unobtrusively - on their way to the eleven o'clock service. Google tells me that in 2000 two hundred and thirty two people lived there in 62 families - 93% white and 4% African American; median age was 48 and the median income eighty five thousand dollars a year. Every house, every garden was immaculate - almost too good to be true.
The church was exquisite both inside and out. The congregation welcomed us for five minutes before the service - there were smiles and handshakes all round.
The church yard was full of surprises. A lot of the Fathers of the Revolution are buried there (among them Ethan Allen) but then, quite by chance, there was the grave of Robert Frost, the poet. He lived hereabouts and was a real New England Man. Violets grew around his grave and it really was the most peaceful scene. The trees were full of clean Spring Green, the flowers were in blooom, everything appeared to be freshly laundered/white washed - it was a haven of peace and tranquility - a fitting spot for the grave of such a Countryman/Poet. But, of course, it has not always been peaceful - it did see action in the past, and - as in all places - there have been sadnesses. Robert Frost himself lost his first child, Eliot, to cholera.
I wrote this little poem on leaving:-
Old Bennington.
There is no chaste land here,
for men have toiled and
tilled the soil,
and died - their children too.
Battles have been fought
and fields strewn with bones.
Blood has settled in the soil,
but violets grow.