Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Dry Days and Poetry

Only a shortish posting today as I return to my current theme of the drought on the reserve.
With most of the reserve's ditches now dry or nearly so, the ditch below, which is close to the reserve barn, came up with the reserve's first drought fatalities. This ditch ends alongside the barn gate that I featured in the last posting and is responsible for flooding accross the track there in the winter - now look at the sorry state its in and the three eels that lay dead there. However there was a ray of hope, alongside the dead eels there was a small puddle of wet mud and in it one, just surviving eel.

Despite getting smothered in foul smelling black mud, I managed to get the eel into a bucket and got immense satisfaction from releasing it into a nearby ditch that still clung onto a few inches of water and watching it swim away. Such small triumphs and pleasures!
The ditch that I released it in to had had so much water loss that normally under-water Water Voles holes had now become exposed, which at least confirmed their existence again. But look at how far above the hole the normal tide line is.

The original three Aberdeen Angus bulls on the reserve have now been reduced to two now that most of their "duties" have been carried out. I watched this morning as this one was pushed some distance away from the herd by the other more aggressive bull. He stood by some willows, looking a lot less the powerful specimen that he was earlier in the year, very much the dejected loser. He also carried a sparring wound on his forehead.

And lastly, I came across the following poem by the English poet Edward Thomas in a newspaper recently. It was an observation during a train journey that he took shortly before being killed in the First World War.

Yes, I remember Adlestrop -
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express train drew up
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed, Someone cleared
his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop - only the name.

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No white less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudless sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang,
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestshire.


  1. I've a book "Edward Thomas on the Countryside" which is selection of his prose and verse and love to read it sitting in the conservatory as the sun goes down on a summer's day. It's a pity that the weather didn't match your choice of poem though.

  2. That was the first one of his that I've read Ken, but I thought it quite wistful.