Auld Claes and Parritch

Auld Claes and Parritch

 

Like all good things, it must come to an end
And there is no chance that it will extend
I mean those joyous six weeks of school holidays
When all thoughts of work just turn to play

Of course not everyone enjoys the interlude
But for most this break can change our attitude
Free from normal routine with its constraints
Most say that they have no complaints

Globe-trotters will have travelled to sunny shores
Others have found elsewhere to explore
For many it will have given a welcome space
Some new experience, new joys to embrace

Scholars may have studied and learned many facts
Others, perhaps more wisely, just took time to relax
Parents seeking with their kids a closer bond
While free spirits might have been tempted to abscond!

Holidays should have provided time to reflect
On aspects of living we tend to neglect
An opportunity to refocus and plan ahead
These weeks may even have been a watershed

So whatever the outcome of the annual vacation
Exotic overseas adventures or humbler staycation
Whether life enhancing or perhaps even menacing
Its approaching conclusion is often unsettling

But for most of us auld claes and parritch is the diet we face
Perhaps we simply yearn for the commonplace
‘Cause notwithstanding all the excitement and thrill
The ordered life, the common task, does yet fulfil

 

Ken Fisher

Golden Glow

Golden Glow

[On a sunny July day]

Sunlight’s golden glow
Accosts our sleepy eyes as we awake
Dawn’s shadows scattered
By the radiance from the east

The prospect of a sun-filled day
Fills us with anticipation
Active hours in the great outdoors
Or lazy languishing in some shady arbour

Our spirits lifted by the vaulted sky
Azure blue with tiny wispy clouds
Flowers standing proud and tall
Bees teasing their alluring petals

All’s well with the world
As temperature mounts towards noon
No place to be out abroad in such heat
Siesta time surely has been called

From its apex the sun tips gently downwards
But still much joy in parks and gardens
As tiny tots cavort in paddling pools
And barbecue sets called into service

Throughout the afternoon’s long sun-filled moments
Absorbed in a novel’s world of imagination
Or transported by some majestic symphony
Brought to our senses by head-phones

Gradually the sun inclines toward the west
Daytime pleasures stretched into twilight
The glasses shared bring greater conviviality
Until the chill of dusk chimes benediction

Ken Fisher

The Cicada

The Cicada

[A model in ceramics]

I have often thought that this resounding vibration
Was produced by some birds having an altercation
But when travelling on a recent holiday abroad
We were subjected to the noise that cannot be ignored

I am referring to those all-pervading continental insects
Engulfing the plane trees, making such noise to great effect
As they suck the sap which seems them to intoxicate
The males produce a high-pitched drone, all other sounds to dominate

The noise seems to increase as the temperature rises
And the fact they are seen as a pest does not surprise us
But in nature every creature no doubt has some purpose
And if we don’t bother them. Surely they will not hurt us

Apparently the “singing” of the male cicada is not stridulation
typical of the cricket, but rather a different kind of resonant vibration
By contraction of its muscles it produces those loud clicks
Thus commanding all the world around to be transfixed

One wonders if they would not by and by desist
But for hours on end they continue to persist
And eventually the clicks become as background music
A little less pervasive, if not completely muted

The cicada has been immortalized in local folklore
In French Provence it is difficult to ignore
And models in ceramics are now a major feature
Thus runs the fame of this noisy little creature

Ken Fisher

Approaching the End of the School Term

Approaching the End of the School Term

Towards the end of June we approach the close of the Scottish Schools’ term
This time frame must produce mixed feelings for pupils, teachers, and parents
Relief for the teachers once all the marking and assessing are processed
Release anticipated by the pupils as they exit the school gates
Concern in the parents as to how their offspring have done
And also the perennial problem of child minding in the long break

Of course it is true to say that most kids today do go away, at least for some time
Whether on holiday with family and friends – and many of these are overseas vacations
to destinations that earlier cohorts could only dream of
In fact in common with many others of my generation the Scout Camp
At Crieff or Moffat was our most exotic prospect – ten days under leaking canvas!
Still, we survived (the midges) and were not subjected to the temptations of Magaluf

I suppose there is a sense of life in transition at this time
Some moving from Primary up to the ‘big school’ with all its unknowns
For others the prospect of progressing to college or university
In the hope of training for an uncertain future ‘career’
And teachers wish their charges all the best for whatever lies ahead
No matter they are inwardly glad to be seeing the backs of some!

And for all, pupils, parents, teachers, and those connected to them
A sudden increasing awareness of the very transitory nature of life
Perhaps even more so in this modern age where everything seems
Somewhat provisional.   The old certainties swept away
In jobs, in marriage and relationships, in housing, in the economy, even faith

Perhaps we no longer live under the shadow of the 1960’s Cold War
But do we feel secure as the schools are out – how can we feel calm?

Ken Fisher

Summer Solstice 2017

Summer Solstice 2017

A glimpse of sunshine warms our heart
Flowers and leaves reflect the light
The gentle rays caress our brow
Our lips widen with a smile

For now the daytime stretches out
Filling each hour with gentle light
Dark days of winter long forgot
We rejoice in life outdoors

From this ‘crows nest’ of the year
We scan the horizon fore and aft
Behind long hours of winter gloom
Then spring pregnant with promise

But this year we feel melancholic
Mood saddened by tragic events
We pause at this solstice moment
Praying that fortune may have turned

Ahead the prospect of summer warmth
And autumn’s gold and russet tints
But winter’s spectre lurks beyond
Vaguely threatening summer’s calm

Ken Fisher

For Father’s Day

For Father’s Day

Father’s day has come round once more
The shops are filled with cards galore
It’s time to think of poor old dad
An occasion when we should be glad

‘Cause Dads don’t always get best press
And maybe they fail, we must confess
But most Dads do their very best
When often they are quite hard pressed

Sometimes these days it’s sad to say
The Dad has had to be away
Family problems causing separation
And Dad might well feel desperation

Thank goodness many Dads are still around
Shared parenting can still be found
And along with Mum they are a team
Ensuring for all a great regime

But what e’r may be the situation
Let us today make affirmation
That Dads do matter, we believe
Give thanks for all that they achieve

So let’s ensure this Father’s Day
We take some time to loudly say
We love you Dad, we won’t be shy
To tell you, you’re a real great guy!

Ken Fisher

 

The Bee

The Bee

 

We have a lot to learn from the humble bee
Who works ever so hard for you and me
Their principal role is pollination
Which is vital to the crops that feed our nation

Most of the bees are social creatures
Being together is a quite distinct feature
Up to 50 thousand Honey bees inside a hive
It’s amazing they all manage to stay alive

Bumble bees also like to congregate
But apparently they want a bit more space
So we find about 150 under their roof
Perhaps they prefer to be somewhat aloof

Both types of bees depend on their Queen
Who lays all the eggs, this seems rather obscene
But thanks to the efforts of that sovereign so fertile
All that hard work of the drones is not futile

Indeed I am told that one third of all the food that we eat
Relies on the pollination of bees – that’s surely some feat
One out of every three bites that we munch
Is thanks to the bees – if we lose them, then comes the crunch!

So my message is this, if you hear a bee’s buzz
Don’t be tempted to create undue fuss
For on that bee depends your food supply
Better it lives to ensure you don’t die!

Ken Fisher

Fifteen Miles on the John Muir Way

Fifteen Miles on the John Muir Way
[North Berwick to Dunbar]


Routemarker – the John Muir Way

In the shadow of Berwick Law we set our easterly course
A happy band of ramblers, eyes fixed on the road ahead
Steady is the pace, chat comes easy, spirits high
As we tread this walkway opened to commemorate
The 100th Anniversary of the death of John Muir

Our first objective is to reach East Linton and the Preston Mill
An ancient structure , still preserved, for grinding grain to flour
Powered by a waterwheel fed by the speeding flow in the lade
An energy efficient method – so long as the rainfall does not fail!


Preston Mill

Enlightened and refreshed by our visit to the mill
We continue our rural ramble, encouraged by brightening skies
Through open country our journey takes us inexorably toward the sea
But not before meandering through fields of wheat bordered by woodland

Among the joys of walking with friends is the chance to
Tune in to the natural world around. The birdsong,
The flowers and trees of infinite variety, the differing landscape
And times of animated conversation or moments of silence and solitude
To wonder at creation and breathe it in to our jaded souls

We eventually enter the John Muir Country Park at Belhaven Bay
This extensive sandy inlet changes with the tides’ ebb and flow
And as our eyes are drawn outwards from the shore line
We catch a view of the steep volcanic sides of the Bass Rock
Featured in works of fiction, including Catriona by R L Stevenson


The Bass Rock

And so our steady progress continues, our faces weathered
By the changing conditions, the cobwebs of the city blown away
Our hearts inspired by the heady mixture of fresh air
And recognition of the beauty of life, we press on gratefully

As we near the town of Dunbar we skirt a verdant golf course
Then the coastal path reveals vistas below of the rocky shoreline
Notwithstanding our weariness, we have to descend
And then ascend several stone stairways which brought back childhood memories
Of scenes in some of the adventures of the intrepid Rupert Bear

At last, like pilgrims on a journey, we reach our final destination
Weary but contented. Happy to have completed the distance
Happy to have communed with nature, happy to have been in
Each others’ company. Grateful to share in  John Muir’s legacy

Ken Fisher

 


Dunbar

Drenched

Drenched

Surely it can’t last long. But a few minutes is enough
Cotton T-shirt soaked through, Shoes saturated
I didn’t come prepared. This is meant to be summer
At least it might please the flotilla of ducks

What began as a gentle meander through the park
Suddenly transformed into a battle with the elements
Blue skies overwhelmed by foreboding dark clouds
The galvanizing flash followed by the distant rumble
Where to run for shelter? – definitely not that chestnut tree!

I don’t know what the chances are of being struck
But this is not the time for statistical speculation
I feel I have entered on a game of Russian roulette
Do I run for cover or trust myself to the open ground?

A few more electric pyrotechnics, echoed by muffled roars
The torrential downpour siphoned into a mighty spate
No escape. Grass, flower, trees all inundated
And then a strange calm descended, and the sun peeps coyly through

Leaving the forces of nature to restore my composure
I found myself content to sit on an abandoned bench
And gradually, as steam rises from asphalt paths and verdant grass
Evaporation transforms my soul like the waters of baptism

Ken Fisher

 

Midges

Midges

 

It’s official, the hot news is newly broken
From the sleep of winter this little beastie’s woken
And there is little doubt it is a bigger menace
Than the eponymous comic kid known to us as Dennis

Apparently there are billions of these tiny little creatures
Which of summer, in our Highlands, is a distinctive feature
Their thirst for our blood is completely unremitting
Which sometimes forced defeated visitors into quickly quitting

Press reports tell us the female midge is the one to blame
As she seeks out her victims and sets their skin aflame
‘Cause midges have decided that we make a tasty meal
Caring little for the itch and lumps, and how they make us feel

These beasts force us to look for methods ourselves to protect
Our face and arms and legs and other parts you wont expect
For they are very persistent in their determined hot pursuit
And to the consequences they simply don’t give a hoot!

There is no simple remedy for this annual intimidating plague
Pundits offer creams and sprays but on success they are quite vague
Perhaps we simply must reconcile ourselves to the midge invasion
Pleading with visitors still to come, by all powers of persuasion

Ken Fisher

Dawn Chorus

Dawn Chorus

Today there was a celebration
Of music heard throughout the nation
When birds awoke from restful sleep
As in field and tree their watches keep

Around the globe as light returns
Each line of longitude in turn
From darkest night to radiant day
The gloom of night is chased away

Earth’s eyelid is slowly teased awake
As rays of light announce daybreak
Consciousness returns to the globe
From the shroud of night disrobed

And gradually with illumination
Awakes the avian congregation
And as the dawn chorus our ears caress
It’s melodius sounds our hearts will bless

This harmony surrounds our world
Like in each land a flag unfurled
And we awake to this new day
All dark foreboding cast away

Ken Fisher

Spring in The Trossachs

Spring in The Trossachs

Nature’s beauty revealed in all its glory, sensation uninhibited
Delights for the eye and ear and nose, even touching the heart
A whole spectrum of colour, bird-song of every pitch and rhythm
Sweeping panoramas to trigger our emotional response

This tract of Scottish land might be mistaken for Swiss grandeur
Its steep rising hillsides scale the heights above the lochs
Lomond, Katrine, Archray, Ard, and Venachar
And even our home grown lake, Menteith

Here forest tracks and lochside paths meander
Revealing at each turn of the way some secret of the wild
At springtime new life emerges from the gloom of winter
And everywhere the stirrings of rebirth

Ben A’an and Venue rub shoulders with Ben Lomond
To dominate the skyline o’er the glens
Romantic tales surround Rob Roy the outlaw
John Ruskin and Millais captivated by this terrain

The geography and geology yet another source of fascination
And history has added its own insights to the tale
Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scot
All play their part in the allure which is the Trossachs

Ken Fisher