Summer Dreams from Childhood
In the fifty five years that separate me from those days the world has changed immeasurably. The meadows are no longer full of colour and sound. The grass still dries in the hot sun but there are no longer the rustles of insects or drone of bees. The flowers are gone and the insects killed by pesticide. It is a silent world.
The ponds and streams are devoid of frogs, newts and sticklebacks, the countryside bereft of reptiles.
It is a sad world now. The poems of nature have been shredded by the carelessness and profit of the modern world and I cannot help thinking that we are all the less for it.
I plucked these pictures from my memory.
Summer Dreams from childhood
I walk the meadows
Alive with splashed colour –
Of oxtail daisy, poppy and purple vetch.
By the hedgerow
The cowparsley stood bold
Above the feather-tops of grass,
Like cocky acacia on a diminutive British savannah.
In the cool of the shade,
By the reed rimmed pond,
The frogs jumped and splashed
As I passed by,
Pond skaters danced on invisible skin
And tadpoles cruised the depths,
Nosing the weed on which newts clung,
Still as statues
Alert with beady eyes.
Caterpillars spun their silken webs
Around the nettle heads
And clumped in colonies
Of black and yellow spiny families.
The green grass baked in the dynamo of heat’s electricity.
Only a soft breeze stirred the leaves in lazy caress,
To suck the moisture free
And rob the drying plants;
To carry off the spoils
Of the seeds and scents of a million petals,
Arid blades and seared soil.
The hum of nature –
The stridulation of grasshoppers
Merged with the rustle of tiny feet
On crisp leaves;
The drone of bees
As they trundle from flower-head to nectary
Laden down with yellow pollen-swollen legs,
Drunk with the heady sweet fumes.
Above, the butterflies silently dance
In tumbling multi-coloured clouds,
Spilling on the breeze in gay gavotte.
In the streams the sticklebacks,
With red bellies like aquatic robins,
Dash for cover
And dart from weed to bank, to hide
Safe within protective caverns
Hollowed out by crystal clear water,
As the currents eat out the overhangs
To which they zig-zag in a flash.
Grass-snakes, slow-worms and lizards bask
In the hot sun
And slide into the undergrowth
At the first vibration of footfall on soil –
Lizards jumping through the
Raffia grass with loud clatter
As I delight.
Pigeons coo and woo
As songbirds sought the highest perches
To sing their songs of love and fury –
Laying claim to all that they surveyed.
The world alive with scent, colour and life.
Summer sang with a song on interwoven melodies, big and small,
That set the spirit free,
Of pleasure and peace.
Lying in the long grass,
Surrounded by bobbing flowers and creeping creatures,
In an island
Adrift from civilisation,
As the yellow sun
Gleamed down from a deep blue infinity,
Through the lazy suds of clouds.
With all the time in the world.
Wanting for nothing more.
A world now locked away in the past,
In my memories,
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