This is a great selection of poetry, some familiar some new to lift the spirit in November. Unfortunately a few of the links take you frustratingly to pay sites, but pass swiftly on and enjoy the selections.
Opening a book for the first time is like letting a stranger into your home.
You have no idea if you are going to like them or not. Will they be pompous, verbose, long winded, take forever to get to the point? Will they assume you have known them for years? Start anecdotes with no context or just witter on and on with no end to the context, until you want to gnaw off your own hand?
Will they embarrass you with intimate details about their bodies or family ailments? Or even worse will they tell you suddenly how appalling their childhood was and induce in you a sense of nauseated impotence about how awful the world can be?
Maybe they will make you squirm on the sofa with their unhealthy political views slid unexpectedly between an observation about travel and food.
Maybe they will simply talk nonstop about themselves and you will wonder if they actually have any friends and then will understand why they don’t and worry, that by listening to them for so long, you might now be considered their friend.
Or, will you be intrigued by them?
Lean back and let them talk, because you really want to hear more? Will you laugh at their self deprecating asides and really relish all the details, be positively disappointed when they pause for breath? Be astonished by how the time has flown by while your guest has been talking? When they are gone, will you look out of the window and see something for the first time, still hear them talking in your head and hope they will come back soon?
A good writer can make you care about the most unlikely things and open your mind. A bad writer can ruin the thing you thought you loved .
I am tempted to stretch this analogy to breaking point, but will stop.
Shutting a book is so much easier than getting rid of a dull guest. Although you may be passionately opinionated about the book that you are reading, you don’t have to worry about the book talking back. If you don’t like it, it is muted by the simple act of you putting it down and never picking it up again.
The hunt is on every weekend and the ominous crump of guns keeps us out of the forest.
I have bought florescent fleece scarves to mark us out in the gloomy woods and hopefully to prevent us from being shot, but their jarring colour is very unlovely.
When venturing into the edge of the forest ( on none hunting days) there are still a few birds to hear. The high pitched chuffing train call of the tiny goldcrest; the crackle of the mistle thrush; the screeching note of the black woodpecker as it moves from bare winter tree to bare tree.
Beech trees are beautifully monumental denuded of their leaves. Their trunks are smooth and grey, fine limestone pale in the weak light.
On a cut log the tiniest of fungi jelly babies break the surface, nosing up into the damp November air.
In high summer, my moth trap is so full of wonders that I have to admit to feeling occasionally overwhelmed by the job of identifying and recording them all.
As summer wanes, the moths that appear in the trap change in name and in number and by the end of autumn I am lucky to find a single one on the outside of the trap, or hiding on the egg boxes inside.
The season is over.
Before I put the trap in the garden shed I plugged it in one last time and wonderfully there was a new species sat on the lid waiting for me in the cold morning.
He was a mottled umber and I can confidently assign him a gendre as the females of this species are wingless and very different. He was jeweled with dew on his “ fur” and the zig zag markings were sharp and clear.
Here are a few more new species that I have identified in the garden this year (often with the invaluable help of the county moth recorder)
Obviously these are not to scale. The large wainscot is not that large! The small yellow wave was quite small and it seemed a good way to wave goodbye to the season.
I hope you have enjoyed meeting a few of my new finds!
The weather has finally turned cool and I have brought the last ones in to dry on top of the wood burning stove.
What I cannot share with you is their wonderful and unexpected scent of vanilla! After being toasted on the stove, the remaining sugars release a real smell of caramel and I can understand where the idea of chili chocolate must have come from. Cooked, they are pungent and spicy enough to make your eyes sting, but before cooking they are innocently sweet.
I like growing chilies because you have to start them so early on the window sill in spring. When the weather is still drear out side but my fingers are itching to start gardening again, they germinate faithfully in their trays and the sturdy little green plants grow slowly but surely until it is frost free and safe to plant them out. They need a good summer to flower and for the seed pods to ripen, but I have only had one disastrous year and generally they do very well in our warming world.
Chopped and stored in a jar, they will heat curries and many other dishes in the drear time before I can plant some seeds again!