After rain

It’s a perfect late August sunny morning after rain


I’ve tried to count
your petals but lose
track each time
around and recall
that numbers never
touched my senses
with clarity of cold
or warmth or taste or
touch or sight or
scent or sound and
after rain this late
summer morning

I note that tall
and elegant you’re
not much of an
accountant either
and for you too
life is celebrated
sometimes by each of
these but in the main
by radically returning
your searching face to
life-raising energy
in sunlight

There’s a small ‘after rain’ photo gallery here

Swallows and Amazons

Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons with two of our grandchildren and their parents tonight, followed by supper out (a cracking pizza for me) – summer treat before the little ones are back to school at the end of the week. The girls loved the film well enough. But parents and grandparents thought it absolutely the bees knees – the book having been first read and loved 20+ and 40+ years ago! Wonderful young actors. Beloved and glorious scenery. No further need to recount the well-sailed story here – the book and the film do that better than I could. I just wanted to record satisfaction that a story published in 1930 was tonight roundly enjoyed by three generations. And I rather hope that I may be taken to see a new version twenty years or so from now!


A mellow sort of a day today. Quiet. Neither very hot nor very cold. Neither wholly still nor too windy. Mellow. The garden shimmers in the ripeness of late summer. As does my stilled – even sleepy at times – soul. And it’s at times like these that the ‘communion of poets’ come into sight. Glad remembrances sound within. Poems clasped to the heart long ago come again into late summer’s quiet light.


Love means to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills –
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

Czeslaw Milosz


An August Midnight


A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter—winged, horned, and spined—
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While ‘mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands …


Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
—My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
“God’s humblest, they!” I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.

Thomas Hardy

The insect world is beginning to feel cooler nights as the house martins, in conference on the telephone wires, are considering departure dates for warmer climes. But domestic houses made by human hands are treacherously dangerous to flying birds, long-legs, moth or fly. And I feel an obligation, wherever possible, to upend my nightstand lampshade, to set free the little creatures who, as Hardy has it, are, for all their tininess, party to life experience not known to my eye

Summer cleaning

Once upon a time people celebrated an activity called Spring cleaning. So far as I was aware there wasn’t a summer, autumn or winter version. But we’ve got well and truly stuck into Summer cleaning over this bank holiday weekend: dead-heading daisies and a general garden tidy-up, regathering books that had taken walks all over the house, filing papers, tidying the desk, dusting, vacuuming, a bit of reordering here and there. And truth to tell … it has all been deeply satisfying!

To sea or not to sea

There’s the usual debate about the sense or otherwise of bank holidays in the UK press today. Millions hoping to head into the stuff of dreams wind up overheated, frustrated and angry in miles long traffic jams on the motorway. When I have the choice between home or away on a bank holiday weekend I’ll pretty much always opt to stay. But dreams are important. I was enormously touched by one of Ruth Bidgood’s poems this evening:

Train to the Sea

When she was old, contented,
I think, with her inland home,
she said ‘One of these mornings
I’m going to get on a train
by myself, and go to the sea.’
It became just something she would say,
repeated with no urgency,
little conviction. No one felt any need
to help her set out on that small adventure.
No one thought she would do it, or even
that she truly wanted to go.

Yet after she died, I found her list
of trains to the sea, crumpled a bit
and thumbed, as if she had often
peered at it, making her plans.
But always in the end it seemed
a formidable, rash and lonely thing,
that little journey, and she calmed
her heart with small domestic things,
or saw rain coming, or heavy heat, and stayed.

Ruth Bidgood
Selected Poems, page 134

There’s life in dreams. They’re of the utmost importance, even, perhaps especially, for stayers.