There’s an old expression about the cold: ‘It’s cold enough to freeze the knockers off a brass monkey’. Which sounds rude but isn’t (or so the Archaeologist told me once – something to do with how they used to stack the iron cannonballs on board Men’o’war using brass racks – called monkeys. Since iron shrinks in the cold more quickly than brass they would fall through the gaps in extreme cold and, well, you get the picture).
Thus when the temperatures dropped and the pond iced over, I trooped around the garden to see the signs of life.
I’m never sure if I have a favourite season – sometimes these days I wonder if the seasons I used to know as a kid exist any more – but I definitely enjoy winter. Not necessarily the cold, when it’s biting into my neck like a vapourised vampire, but the stark scenery, the bare branches showing me what the trees really look like, when I can see the ground laid bare with small signs of life poking through and hinting at what’s to come.
In fact, put on the spot, I much prefer cold to hot. I’ve managed to put on so many layers I feel like Bibendum the Michelin Man but I’ve yet to find a way to remove my skin in order to try and release the captured heat.
But, yes, it’s the trees that win me over, sculptured against the sky, fractured into fractals. waiting on Mother Nature’s dropped flag to Go! and start budding up.
All of which puts me in mind of a set of three sonnets I wrote a while back on the subject of climate change and the changes wrought to the seasons as we know them. Enjoy. Or maybe just ponder on… like Dog…
A Springless Future
Cold Jack, content and job well done, creeps home
Allowing Spring her turn to warm the earth.
Crocus tongues push out through softening loam
As glass-eyed shepherds watch their flock give birth.
We, unplucked youth, prime cocked with urgent sap,
Feel the tug of Nature’s call to breed.
Like sheep, we follow Her bewitching map
To plant, in fertile earth, our febrile seed.
Yet somewhere Nature’s diverse scheme is lost;
Our black-fuelled lust sears seasons into one.
Our greed neuters Jack; he has become a ghost,
Sharp fingers culled by a remorseless sun.
Why should our lambs breed, given this breach of trust?
We’ve fried this once green Earth, turning it to dust.
Global Warming: The Future’s Hot
His skin is a sticky backed plastic,
One he made earlier. A white
Crust forms, pores oozing their oily mastic,
Like a shield displaying the toiler’s blight.
He bows his head against the drooping sun,
Leans into the teeth of the harsh solar wind;
Effortful tears round his farrowed eyes run,
Each suppurating drop leaving him blind,
False-stepping from trimmed field to tangled Web,
While arrogant man thinks he’s in control;
The future’s a desert, his life-waters ebb,
Jet-glazed, he continues his skills to extol.
For our children the tide will lap them with dust;
Our bequest will be fields we have covered with rust…
Tilting The Future
We’ve browned off the Earth with careless needs
Thoughtless beyond our artificial horizons;
Enlightened by science, scattering seeds
Of our potential destruction. Denizens
Of Earth shrug – having a secular faith
Expecting absolution; they plough on
While the plough rusts in the field; a wraith
Of their lush youth melts in the heat. Clarion
Calls dissipate. Tipping points have passed.
Narrow minds ‘know’ summer’s oven is a phase,
Seasons change: solid winter never fails its task.
Oh history, be their teacher – Time’s backward gaze:
Recall the dinosaurs; even they all died
While the rest – the birds and beasts survived.