After the forecast

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Photo at Pixabay

The first flakes of snow coldly kiss my cheek
Melt and are gone,
Replaced quickly again by others
But determinedly, head down, I still press on,
I know that snow is forecast
And quicken my stride up the fell.
I am checking and closing down my traps
Before the forecast wintry spell.
Three traps I am closing
While still the snow is light,
And in the grey of winter’s day
I strive to finish quickly
Before the onset of bleak night.
I am determined to complete the task
Before light fades away,
And lengthen my stride, collie by my side,
Constant as ever disregarding the weather
My ever faithful guide.
The task is simple. I reach with my stick
Put pressure on the treadle,
Give a firm push and the door swings shut
The trap is now disabled.
I repeat the procedure at each trap
Then Fly and I drop down the path
Through the swirling snow,
Both I am sure pleased with ourselves
As I start the van for home.

Colin Armstrong

Farewell to Summer

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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