Autumn comes

Yesterday was hot. The yellow was golden, we kept in the shade and strolled home listening to the crackle of dried leaves.
The sunflower field looks desolate now, and the trees in front of the house along the stream look pale and thin.

The corn is in too, but the boar still come out to rummage.

Then today, the clouds came, the light was dull, and the yellow seemed more pronounced and drab. Like the box elder

the parched meadows

and the ‘garden’ reduced to yellow dust. The plants have died back or withered, the vine is wilted, the leaves curled and brown, and all we see on the roses are thorns.

At the end of this afternoon it rained. The start of the equinoctial change. High winds, unseasonably cool temperatures and rain are on the menu for the next fortnight. The mellow fruitfulness isn’t going to happen this year, I fear.

Random word generator

Late because we were out this morning. Not far, just meandering. Here are the words. Feel free to borrow and build some poems with them.

Haibun for a summer walk

Sun had burned off the mist, the lingering memories of smoke snagged in the bramble tangles, where a nest slowly unravelled in the wind.
It was cool in the narrow lane between the softly curved walls of the tiny church and the façade of the big house. Cool the lane winding up between oak and ash and Sunday silence. Silent the disused church, especially on Sundays. No fire had touched this place that held damp in its cupped carved hands.
We walked, dog-panting, dog-curious, up and round and back again, between stone and stone and tree-walls and lingered awhile before the glorious evening sky-blue of the big house door, wondering if it ever opened onto the courtyard beyond, drinking in the scent of over-ripe apples.

Summer wasp-buzzes
still—reluctant to let go
of its ripe wild fruits.

End of summer walk

The weather is breaking, storms coming up from Spain, so we profited from the cooler temperature to take the dogs walking in the deep dark forest just over the river at Mas- d’Agenais and along the Garonne and the canal lateral à la Garonne.

The light was strange, the sky pale blue behind ragged pale grey cloud. We saw no one and nothing except birds.

A large stream runs right through the forest, cutting a deep gully as it winds around huge tree roots. It’s completely dry at the moment, full of dead leaves, crossed by fallen tree trunks, and here and there, deep pools full of brackish water.

We followed the dry stream for about a kilometer but the silence and the strange, flat light were oppressive. Even the photos have come out grainy.

We took the road along the Garonne home, stopping to walk a way along the river to watch the herons, egrets and swans. As usual, they were on the opposite bank.

At Lagruère, we joined the canal latéral, the Toulouse-Bordeaux section of the canal du Midi.

This is what I had resting on my shoulder most of the time.

Approaching town across the bridge. This time the photo suffers from the state of the roads.

Morning walk

It’s too hot to be out for most of the day, so I take the dogs out earlyish. Walking too early can be problematic because there are still lots of wild animals about, so we wait until 8.30 when the night folk will be hidden away.

I stick to the lane when I’m alone, where the risk of distractions is less. Even at midday there are rabbits and deer about at the edge of the fields…

though Redmond often has to wait patiently while Bix investigates every grasshopper, lizard and mouse he sees in the ditch.

The woods at the side of the lane are full of interesting ‘things’.

and the edge of the corn field at the bottom of the hill is a favourite hang-out for wild boar.

Back home.

The meadows still look pretty, but the earth is bone dry and so fissured it’s hard to walk across.

Even the north side of the house is mainly dry stalks, but the chicory flowers still manage to make a picture.

As the heat subsides

The trees mark the course of the stream. The house is on the other side.

The other side of the lane, opposite the sunflowers, the woods where the boar live.

Along the meadow where the lane crosses the stream, parched and almost silent, where the corn field meets the trees, a wild boar appeared. In the dusk, dark as a bear, massive, unperturbed, a force of nature equal to the storm brewing above his head. The sky means nothing to pigs, an unknown, unseen. The earth, with its scents and riches is what matters.

Chaos above,
clouds in tatters,
heat one with the wind,
incensed, striking sparks
with thunderstones.

Sun flowers and fire

The Gironde is still burning, pine forests full of wildlife destroyed. But according to the news reports, there have been no victims.

We walked around the place today across the stream. Sunflowers fill the small field behind the poplars and the alders.

Turning east into the sun, climbing into the gentle hills, more sunflowers spread north and north and north.

We turn back, still early morning , but already too hot, walk west, thinking of the wild fires raging, and the massacre in the inferno of tinderbox pine forests.

The sun was once
a mother and father
we watched it rise and set
in awe wonder and fear.
Now all that is left is fear.

At Laparade

The place where I live is called the Pays du Confluent, the region where the river Lot joins the Garonne. This morning we went to a one of the villages along the Lot to buy a sink, and came back via Laparade, a fortified settlement, similar to dozens in the area, built some time in the 13th century. One of the things I like so much about this part of the world, it’s pretty, peaceful, and nobody visits it.

At Laparade

Up high behind the stone
of rampart walls
of what was stronghold
a baron’s place of fertile plain

we look down the valley
to the Lot.
Not Camelot
not fairy-built and peopled

but fed with blood and bone
of countless wars,
this place, placid now
where silence rings in swallow-song,
not steel and dying screams,

and the sun beats down
on harvesting and harvested,
on green and growing,
on woodland, river-winding,
the mirror,
I look down,
not breaking.

Spring gone

Posting this one for Paul Brookes’ 30DaysWild challenge. I like the tender colours in it. The photograph was only taken a month ago but the wheat is already ripened and harvested.

Spring gone

I think I remember
the way the seasons rolled,
a great wheel turning slowly,
drawing up green shoots,

the way they unfurled into summer flags,
danced red and gold in autumn winds,
and lay quiet beneath the foggy winter trees.

I think I remember
green and damp and rain.

But the lurch of the machine,
no longer in control,
shakes the memories into the exhaust,
blown away like chaff.

Visual Verse

Kerfe has just pointed out to me that we both had pieces selected to appear in last month’s Visual Verse magazine. I hadn’t noticed. Kerfe’s poem and my short prose piece are together, which has happened before and I like that. You can read mine here.

The Quai de Brazza at Bordeaux has been tidied up beyond recognition. From a crumbling relic of the city’s past glory as a rich commercial port, the overgrown cobbles and tramlines have been covered in tarmac paths for cyclists to whizz along, screaming at walkers to get out of the way. There are lawns where colonising saplings were starting a forest, and the old port warehouses are fancy coffee shops or boho hangouts.

It seems like a terrible shame to me, but land is expensive in the city and if there’s a buck to be made, someone will work out how.

May journal 16

Last day of peace and quiet, the morning fresh and dripping after yesterday’s rain. Blue sky and a drift of white clouds. The mewling and coarse crow-calling as four buzzards sail away from a single angry crow.

Is this blue
this limpid light
or the reflection of a dream?

The pheasants visit the new enclosure, oblivious to my presence, weeding. Golden Orioles squabble in the poplars, and so many blackbirds this year that their singing is ever-present. I listen to the birds not expert enough to pick out the individual singers, the instruments of this vast indomitable orchestra.

Quiet is when bees are noise
a distant cock crowing
buzzards high in the blue
mewing their plaintive call
the cricket beneath the window.

The house waits, as if it knows. The element that has been missing for the winter months will soon be back. Like the swallows and all good things. Tomorrow.