A nice bit of chicken

Sunday November 5, 2006

The stillness of Autumn is well and truly set in now and what you get in the morning is liable to stay with you through the day. Oh, the temperature slowly rises until mid-afternoon before falling back again, but the sky conditions form a constant from start to finish. Today it was bright and sunny once more but there’s a turn in the weather afoot and I’d put good money on fog for tomorrow.

The trees are speckled with golden yellow leaves, on the cold side at first and gradually proceeding to engulf the entire canopy before the shedding starts. One good gale, and naked branches will dominate the landscape once more.

Before putting my head down to get through the winter I sat for a while to recall what has been one of the most glorious summers of my existence. I regret that I was too busy to enjoy it fully. Even at its hottest, if I’d had the time to sit under a shade tree with a long, ice-clinking drink and a pitcher by my side, with a book on my lap, I’d have relished the feeling of warmth edging into my bones.

I haven’t forgotten the heat, nor the way it stopped me in my tracks. I haven’t forgotten the cold to come, either. Both of them can be enjoyed given sufficient leisure and the right attitude and I have great hopes on both counts for the coming year.

This morning I made best efforts to give the house a bit of a clean, change the bedding, and generally put the house in order against Graham’s return.

“Oh, come on, Dolly,” I said as a great lump appeared mysteriously under the bottom sheet. “I’m a bit busy to play the where’s Dolly gone game.”

She would have none of that, though. She rolled on her back and presented a fearsome display of claws through the sheet, daring me to attack her. Well, what can you do? In next to no time the sheet was a crumpled mess, and I was engaged, carefully, in attacking one over-sized cat in full frontal scrummage.

A little while later I had finished but was so late I’d not had time to pop over to Sainsbury’s for provisions. I sent Graham a text message asking him to call me in plenty of time so’s I could fit in a pass by the supermarket on my way to pick him up and settled down on the sofa to doze the time away.

I’d barely shut my eyes when the phone rang.

“I’m just closing up now. Would you prefer to do Sainsbury’s on the way over or shall we do it together on the way back?”

“No contest,” I said. “We’ll do it on the way back. See you in thirty minutes.”

Driving there in the soft afternoon light was quiet and smooth but the return leg was somewhat more eventful. First, we encountered a hawk versus pigeon fight on the track up from the holiday camp to the main road. Too late to help the poor creature, sadly, though it gave me a series of vivid images for today’s OMPOWRIMO poem. [Please skip over it if such things upset you; I think that as a poem it’s quite good but there’s no point upsetting yourself.]

Then, when we got to Bridgwater, we found the road from the supermarket back home blocked by emergency vehicles and great stretches of police tape. A complex of tall timber-built buildings housing a print works was well a’fire, with smoke billowing into the sky. It’s a shame, for it looks as if the buildings will have to be demolished and another of Bridgwater’s anicent landmarks lost. No poem for me there. I’ve had my fill of bonfires and smoke this past week.

Back home we had a snack and a catch up on gossip, and then a late nap, waking just in time to catch the start of the Guy Fawke’s Day firework displays. The entire evening was rent assunder with massive explosions and shrieks from ballistic missiles of various kinds. I’m sorry but I really don’t enjoy this constant barrage of fireworks and I’m thoroughly glad to see the last of the big displays.

We took our dinner late, waiting for the racket to finish before sitting down to eat.

“This is tasty,” Graham said. “What is it?”

“Cheeky monkey. It’s sliced chicken breasts with mozarella, mushrooms and bacon bits, cooked in red wine.”

“Nice. Can’t beat a bit of chicken.”

I ask you. What can you do with ’em?


An authorized killing
Rounding a bend in the track I encounter
a confusion of crows attendant on one
savage hawk, engaged in ripping the life
from a plump Somerset pigeon.
Calling his world-distant cry of protest
he lifts and flies away, carrying the crows
with him to rest on a tree further up
the hill to wait out my intrusion.
The pigeon, plucked almost naked,
gives up the ghost, falls into the verge,
his suffering done. I pass through a
cloud of falling feathers, and the hawk
lifts his wings in triumph or in wild salute,
drifts up, and rides down the hill to fall upon
his prey once more. The crows, black
garbed murderers, wait their turn.
John Bailey
Somerset, November 2006



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