This afternoon is our Poetry afternoon; perhaps my favourite afternoon of the month. Honestly, can you think of anything more pleasurable than to sit in a lovely conservatory and read one's favourite poems with a group of like-minded friends?
In view of the political turmoil which surrounds us (and which we have stopped listening to on the news as we can do absolutely nothing about it ((my son calls this 'burying my head in the sand - well so be it.)), I thought it would be a good idea to base all my readings this afternoon on the beauty of the English countryside. Hence the following choice:
Alexander Pope -' Ode to Solitude' (suggested by The Solitary Walker.)
Kenneth Grahame - (this a prose passage from The Wind in the Willows) a reading from the chapter 'The Piper at the gates of dawn' in which Mole and Ratty search the river for a missing otter cub and encounter Pan, who has guided them to the cub with his pan pipes.( suggested by Derek of Letters from Sheppey).
John Betjamen - 'Winter Seascape.'
U A Fanthorpe - 'At Swarkestone'
Last evening the farmer went upstairs for his shower and from where I sit in the hall at the computer I can hear the shower running. It went on for such a long time and suddenly I was aware the farmer was coming downstairs and yet the shower was still running! It was not in fact the shower at all - it was absolutely teaming with rain, all the gutters were overflowing and the water was streaming down the landing window (and yes, the window cleaner did come yesterday!). We had eleven millimetres of rain in under a quarter of an hour.
We always keep one field to make hay (for old times sake says the farmer) - it is the paddock directly outside the kitchen window. This morning the grass (which was very high) is absolutely flat in the field. And it is raining again now. At breakfast this morning I asked him how much of a catastrophe would this kind of happening have been in the days when they only made hay and then cut it with a scythe, and depended upon it for winter feed. He explained that although it would have been bad, the grass would have been nothing like as high as the only fertiliser would probably have been 'muck', whereas now the fields are all fertilised with 20:10:10: to get a higher and better crop.
How farming has changed since those days and what would these old farmers think if they were to come back and see those changes. I think of my father-in-law, who was well into his nineties when he died and who worked in a gentle kind of way up until his death, and how, at hay time, when all the hay had been gathered up, he would go round the hedge bottoms raking out the last vestiges of hay so that nothing was wasted. Then the cows would be turned into the field to 'pike' , to eat all round the edges where the scythe couldn't reach.
Waste not want not was the maxim for most things in those days whereas (at least in the western world) this maxim seems to have been forgotten in all walks of life.