Harvest

 

I've been asked to say a few words about the harvest.

A little talk. What can I say?

You've heard it all before.

In the countryside it's all around you.

The Harvest's finished in my garden now;

I've picked the last remaining blackberries,

Baked them in a pie with apples from next door

And dined on pie and custard through the week.

The plums have done quite well this year

I've eaten plums and custard many a day,

Made chutney, jam, and given some away.

The red and blackcurrants did well:

They're safe inside the freezer now,

An easy way to make them keep.

No need to bottle them in Kilner jars.

The farmers' prairies all turn gold

Wheat and barley grain is ripe.

Diesel-fuelled dinosaurs devour the crops

And fill their bellies with the golden grain.

Straw swaths swept up and forcibly pressed

Into interesting geometric shapes,

Lined up in serried ranks across the fields,

A transient kaleidoscope of modern art

Soon led away to leave the stubble bare.

Awaiting cultivation, seeding, weeding,

And repetition of the endless cycle.

Skin-set potatoes sit beneath the ground.

Machines crawl forth relentlessly,

Feeling their way between stone-windrows,

Gouging out the earth, and sieving out

Those precious apples of the ground.

Twenty tons per acre, if I remember right.

Plenty to feed us through the year,

Boiled, baked, mashed, fried, or chipped;

Crisps in packets by the million.

The sugar beet campaign will start quite soon

Large white roots torn up and sent away

In truckloads to the Newark factory,

Converted into granulated white

To please our taste (and rot our teeth).

You knew all this, I didn't need to speak.

You're getting bored, and Robert's fast asleep.

There are four seasons in the year, but why?

It's not enough to simply know,

I really have to understand.

One orbit of the earth around the sun defines a year.

Earth's spinning on its axis gives us night and day.

The axis slightly tilts; I don't know why.

This quirk produces seasons in the year.

Different lengths of night and day.

The cruel Winter, dark and cold.

Springtime bursting with new life.

Long hot days of Summertime.

Bounteous Harvest in the Fall.

You've found this rather tedious, I fear:

Someone else can give a talk next year!

Malcolm Goodall August 2013