The Harvest

Today I will go and pluck
the ripe produce
from my garden,
in raised boxes
made so I need not bend
my slowly aging back.

Colourful beets with their leaves
are waiting for the dinner pot,
courgettes yellow,
cucumbers green,
petals of golden orange calendula
and three colours of nasturtiums,
there were peas and mangetout,
but not yet the maize,
the peppers, beans
or the masses of tomatoes
some surely destined
for more than salads,
the apples are not yet ready
though the trees hang heavy,
and with now little sun or heat
yet three figs ripened into sweetness,
there are a few random carrots
and sunflowers undaunted.

Today I will go and pluck
the ripe produce
from my garden,
in raised boxes
made so I need not bend
my slowly aging back.

This is the time of gratitude,
so much more real
in the growing of my own,
the days I stand in awe
of what earth and sun and water
do to small dry seeds
bursting forth against the odds,
the birds, the bugs,
to provide for me nourishment
in exchange for their nurture;
I offer my thanks for these gifts
of grace and graft
brought to harvest
in a cooperative dance
between me and earth and sky,
as life to continues bearing its fruits,
providing food for feasting.

Today I will go and pluck
the ripe produce
from my garden,
in raised boxes
made so I need not bend
my slowly aging back.

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Maize Mothers

I have interacted with the maize field across the road ever since it was planted early in the summer. The field is quite large and the rows run parallel to the road. Apparently, some years ago they were planted vertically to the road and the cottage flooded. Thankfully, the change in planting direction was the remedy, but I digress.

For some time now I have been thinking it a field of Maize Maidens.
Maize Maidens 5Maize Maidens 4Maize Maidens 3Maize Maidens 2

However, in the last week or so it has been made clear to me that at this time it considers itself a field of Maize Mothers.
Maize Mothers 3Maize Mothers 2Maize Mothers 1Maize Mothers 4

And, thinking about it that re-framed designation makes a lot more sense.

Maize Mothers

We are the Maize Mothers,
our Maiden days have long past
in the heat and light of Summer.

At our beginnings we were
supple and able to bend in the breeze,
and our song sung with the wind
was soft and gentle for who listened.

We are the Maize Mothers,
our Maiden days have long past
in the heat and light of Summer.

Through the early searing heat
and later protracted torrential rains,
we stood together growing taller,
our stocks stiffening with age.

We are the Maize Mothers,
our Maiden days have long past
in the heat and light of Summer.

Awaiting the inevitable harvest,
our silks no longer free flowing blonde
emerge tangled brown from ears full to bursting,
our crop is ripening and strong.

We are the Maize Mothers,
our Maiden days have long past
in the heat and light of Summer.

Our songs are now dry
as we rustle in the Autumnal winds,
our crowns are thin and empty,
the work of our life nears ending.

We are the Maize Mothers,
our Maiden days have long past
in the heat and light of Summer.

We do not seek your sorrow or your pity,
we came to provide food for man and beast,
it is our burden and our gift,
we only ask your gratitude at each partaking.

We are the Maize Mothers,
our Maiden days have long past
in the heat and light of Summer.

Autumnal Equinox

Yesterday’s air different,
today’s breath visible
in the early morning air
with hands stinging
for the first time since
last winter.

Hardly cold
suddenly cooler,
the air having
a faint metallic tang
the one of autumn
full here.

A heavy dew fall
or a light frost unfrozen,
too hard to discern,
though unwellied feet
shoe shod soon soaked.

Blackberries enbrambled
turn to mold and mush
as the thorns still
grab passers by
intent or oblivious
impossible to tell.

Conkers and sweet chestnuts
tumble to the ground,
both encasing treasure
in spiked or prickly shelters
hiding unexpected in downy soft,
velvet smooth nurseries
until time propitious
sets them free,
now.

Beechnuts exposed
in their four sided
hideaways crunch
underfoot
most empty with
little fruit
revealed for all
the tree’s hard work
and hope-filled efforts.

Hazelnuts falling green empty
or emptied quickly
by the tail whipping
harvester or thief,
nearly every oak ravaged
by the tiny wasp
knopper galled trees surrounding,
only hawthorns
abundant and hanging
heavy with haws red and plump
unequivocally inviting feasters.

Equinox upon the horizon
balance between
day and night
then all the energies
tip from creeping
to swifter darkness
leaving only memories
of light as life
and the living
prepare through the
rest of autumn
for the harshest season
once again.

A Day too Still

Walking on a day too still,
the world all silent waiting,
wondering what portends,
querying the hush,
quiet enough to hear
Poplar’s leaves
drifting
groundward,
though in the distance
combines rake the fields bare.

Going farther
at the stone bridge can be seen
through Stream’s running waters
long tendrilled trailing grasses,
bright Stream Nymphs’ hair.
and the gathering of bubbles
over mini rapids congregating
air’s infusion linking
elements and Elementals.

On down the path
where Stream babbles singing water’s song
to mudded banks eroded
in days well gone and long forgotten,
hear Heron call when taking flight,
strain to see Woodpecker least spotted
rhythmically tapping muffled on a living tree,
see Old Yaffle airborne low,
and Moorhen crossing in front ignoring danger
eager to enter Stream’s bidding,
‘come join my swirling dance’.

Turning round where the path ends
at a mown and empty field,
no gleaning birds to see
the harvest truly past there,
back now observing elderberries
hanging heavy where once
flowers held heads high,
spider woven portcullises
drawn down before the blackberries
with stinging nettle sentinels
only the brave or foolish,
insect or walker,
reach for the fruit.

Then came out the sun
clearing clouds overcasting,
creating a less white sky,
the temperature rising muggy,
but the silence remained
etched into the space
marking fast the day.

Berries Mark the Spot

The berry nodules bursting
at the slightest touch,
juice running down my hand
bloody red arterial flowings,
at the doom drenched corner
where here or elsewhere
an end may well be met
breaking free the bonds
of nerve and sinew
taking the victim cascading
in death upon the banks
of a farther shore.

The berries in themselves
sweet and luscious,
but the other vision overlaid
shakes the joy of eating,
partaking only to be made
stronger for what seems
to rest ahead
in misty shroudings.

The bloody harvest,
paradox irreconcilable,
compounded
in the danger and delight
drawn from the hedgerow’s
corner harvest,
waiting  as insides clench
for any speeding vehicle
could be the catalyst of casualty.

The last bright Summer
fading into Autumn,
the time of foreseen fate
lurks over the horizon
days or weeks beyond
human reckoning,
will a destiny unfold
shattering hope,
destroying desire,
devastating an unhealed heart,
for the one left behind
where berries mark the place?

The Grain does not know . . .

The Grain does not know that the Harvest is coming.

This message came to me over a month ago and settled into my awareness and went silent for a while. Several days ago it came back, chanting and pushing and insistent – a Lammas warning, perhaps.

The Grain does not know that the Harvest is coming.

I heard this originally pertaining to a certain dream series I had several months ago that were about an personal matter. But, it has wider meanings this time of the year.

As I walk out into the countryside, the delicate scent of camomile wafts from the field boundaries and on the path flies are zizzing all around me through the stinging nettles.

Camomile 1      Flies

Along the way I saw the one of the wheat fields had been harvested, and another had not.
Wheat cut            Wheat uncut

The grass is rolled for storage.

Grass baled

The maize tassels are turning russet brown in the bright sun.

Maize

The walnuts and conkers are ripening on their respective trees high above my head.

Walnuts             Conkers

I have not yet seen acorns, but not visited the tree who might bear them in a few weeks. The hazelnuts are already being harvested though shells are white and their covers are still downy green and soft, not yet nut brown and dry.

Early hazel harvest   Hazel cluster

The elderberries are still green and compact, though sparse.

Elderberries

However, some rowan berries are red ripe.

Rowan berries

I saw one ripe yew berry, the victim of hedge trimming, but most are still green.

Yew berry on the floor    Yew berries

The haws are turning on some trees and a few blackberries are making an attempt to ripen, but the dry spell, even after all our rains may bring a meagre harvest for the creatures to forage the hedgerows, and for the latter I include me.

Haws      Blackberries

The apples are blushing in the sunshine.

Blushing apples           Blush apple

The mangel wurzles are bursting from the ground; tatties are still flowering, though some are prepared to be taken from the earth.

Mangle Wurzles    Flowering tatties

Field tatties green    Tatties of havest

The Grain does not know that the Harvest is coming.

These photos are idyllic, pastoral, speak of the way of the seasons. The natural order of being. Yet, the words still haunt me. They make me squirm. They make me think deeply about every day in the bright, hot summer.

I find it difficult in part because summer has never been my best season, beyond the mosquito bites to which I am allergic and the absence of school when I was younger. I know that the light emanates from sun and shoots out into the bleakness of space. Some of it radiates this planet we call home in the precise amounts to allow us to live, unless we mess it up and lose the ozone layer and cover ourselves in too thick a blanket of CO2.

All that science acknowledged and intellectually understood, the part of me that deals with and senses and feels the energies of all that surrounds me tells me that the plants and the animals invoke the light and call down the heat at this time of year. This is the oppressiveness that I feel nearly every summer, except when their calls go unheeded and it is damp and chilly and mostly overcast. In the height of summer even the shade can feel too heavy as the leaves pull in the sun’s energy and they turn a dark green, and often crackle in the wind.

The Grain does not know that the Harvest is coming.

The summer is not passed. The harvest is beginning. The days are gradually contracting, but it is still hard to notice. The sun feels brighter and hotter, though we are slowly tilting away from its strength.
The wheat and maize are standing tall and stiff until they are taken down. The winds glide in graceful patterns over the barley fields. The oats shake and nod in the breeze. None of the individual stocks or stems knows their fate. None of them realise they work for us. None of them know we humans will in due course take their lives away. And we and the other creatures do so to sustain and maintain our lives in the great food chain by and in which we are all, as living beings, bound.

Sobering thoughts. Serious contemplations. In the wider understanding of consumerism, we may not giveth, but we surely have the power to taketh away – take away the life of any other creature or plant that is in our way, that we can exploit for gain, that we can create a demand for. And in so doing we destroy a little more of ourselves. We continue to reap what we cannot sow. In many cases what can never be sown again.

The Grain may not know that the Harvest is coming, but we do.