Farewell to Summer

lakelandfells

The falls that carry the rains from the fell
To the lake in the valley below
Can be heard crashing down in the distance
Beneath the palest of pale rainbows.
For centuries the waters have worn away
At the slate-smooth side of the fell
And now from a polished rock flute they have formed
Spout like a flared white peacock’s tail.
It is not even yet November
And bright berries the holly adorn,
But without the sound of crashing falls
There’d be nothing to welcome the morn.
The songbirds now are silent
From them no dawn chorus rings
For temperatures falling with incessant rain
Have dampened their spirits to sing.
Whilst on Loweswater’s swollen feeder streams
Leafy flotillas go sailing by,
Leaves of oak and ash and chestnut
Cascading from on high.
And alongside the falls side by side are stood
Golden fans of bracken
And bright green ferns of the wood.
The bright evergreen of ferns unchanging
Whilst brackens change from gold to brown
And will finally submit to winter
Who’s sharp frosts will lay them down.
Winged seeds of the sycamore too spiral down
From branches that sway in the breeze,
And red paint declares the sentence of death
On diseased and unsafe trees.
Plastic mesh across footpaths
And signs to say, ‘This way is closed’
For torrential rains and gale force winds
On the woods have taken their toll.
Some of the older and taller trees
Have been toppled by the gales
And after seasoning and sawing
Will become gates and fencing rails.
Nothing here is left to waste,
All will be gathered in,
Brambles for jam, elderberries for wine,
Sloes to colour and flavour gin.
For after all, when gifts are free,
To waste would be a sin.

Colin Armstrong

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