October
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{ 93 } 56. INSECT LIFE Night frosts burnish autumn. Now days were filled with haze. Cumulus burst by fierce wind raced over blue sky, sheared trails crossing the upper air. Warmth brought flocks of greenfly, the village a bloom of busyness: paint seared from windowpane , churning concrete mixer, repointed brickwork. Leaves of poplar were on the road, the trees themselves bare. Always the last to turn, oak were tannin green. The fields were part end of one season, part early next. A shift at the village surgery too, the roads chaotic and cars put up at all angles: winter flu jabs today. Along the valley road, scarred sugar beets in windrows were coated with loamy soil. Days ago, the same fields were glossy green and wet with irrigation prior to lifting, then worker tractors came to buzz by queen harvester until dusk descended. In the days of horse, a plowman walked eleven miles daily, could be plowing to February. It was a far period to fear rain: horsemen and plowmen sent home with no pay, wet washing meager shillings away. These days were dry, and now we soak the soil. Cereal fields had already grown a green mist. Late one afternoon, gray-hooded jackdaw probed flinty soil, shadows dark and stretched towards far hedgerow. A lean roe deer picked across a harrowed field; it grew small and could have been a hare. Later, an antlered male stood stock-still in tall oat grass yellowed with evening glow. Straw leaked from a nearby barn, the yard had many midges. The swallows were long gone. Now came migrant geese. Racing pigeons are bred for speed, but greylags are graceful. Driving around the county town, all the cars on the legal limit; an echelon slotted in to fly fifty feet above. We traveled for a mile or so, less than a lazy minute of steady wing beats, the geese shifting up-gear and pulling inland for evening roost. To the garden came murmurs then shouts from a neighbor’s. An archaeological expert had come, pits were being dug into the past across the village. Knowledge of ancient, medieval, and industrial history grew with finds of pottery and tile, rare OCTOBER { 94 }     The East Country arrowheads, recent pennies. Here had stood Trinovantes tribe, Roman soldier, suffe­ rer of the Black Plague, shepherd, weaver who started the industrial revolution. Over here, there was water in the birdbaths, but one would not survive harsh winter’s frost. On the valley tops, Out of gray-green oilseed delicate doves rose with the soothing rush of river, No bustling wing-cracks of woodpigeon. Turning back to the road; There was a flash of orange and black. And bang. Horse-kicked by a hornet. The chemical shock rippled around my mouth. There were miles to go. By home, It was hard to breathe. A truck from the timber yard delivered a half load, the tumbled logs lying out front. Inside, the woodstove waited. 5 57.  A NEW ANNIVERSARY It was the dawning of a day. Gray light, racing dark clouds. Rain pooled on roof, fallen leaves in the garden glistened. Wind turned trees inside out. The whole atmosphere was on the move. The kettle boiled, and I pulled a chair and sat with tea at the open back door, bare feet tingling, robin then blackbird singing over the racing wind. There were four pink roses, two reds, two peach. Drips fell from the wisteria. The salmon hollyhock was crumpled silk, the sky reflected in flagstone sheen. I leant to see what would happen next. The feeders swung, empty. A rook dashed upwind. The hosepipe was laid out, the watering can also unnecessary for another season. It was the dawn of another day. A new anniversary. I rose in silvered dark of moonlight, and drove towards Cassiopeia. The fields were wrapped with wisps of mist. A warmth smudged the east, a distant furnace beyond the underworld. A bruised band of sky spread, Trees and church towers emerging from darkness and cottony cover. At Blythburgh, glassy water ebbed From flooded marsh to river and raced { 95 }     October Towards the harbor. A timeless light shone in the fogbank. We drank tea, with resolve got going. This was not to be formal, where permissions are paid, as at institutional cemetery or graveyard. We went early to escape crowds. The sunrise was due a little after seven. My mother, brother, and I drove down to Blackshore, and with jackets zipped walked out on a wooden...


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