Photo by Jeffrey Czum on


Flat roofs belong to the Mediterranean,
Roofs for sun-decks, cheap to build,
For drying the laundry and gazing at stars,
Where the gutters have never spilled.
But Northern nations need their pitches,
Steep and tall and highly skilled.

Forget the tar, that won’t keep rain out,
That takes slate and tile and lead –
And don’t let snow accumulate,
It must be sheer enough to shed.
Maybe some dormers, maybe a Mansard,
Maybe even thatch instead.

But these days, and since the Georgians,
Fashions favour flat and low,
Yet walls get wet when eaves are dropped,
And the drainpipes overflow.
So ev’ry Winter spring the leaks
From rain with nowhere to go.

First Chill of Autumn

Photo by Pixabay on

First Chill of Autumn

It isn’t a frost – don’t fret,
But it is a cold morning –
Notice is given, we’d better take care,
It’s merely the first of the nips in the air.
It isn’t a frost – not yet,
But it is a fair warning –
It won’t come tomorrow or next week, it’s stating,
But Autumn is old, and the Winter is waiting.

Warm-Water Waves

Photo by Pixabay on

Warm-Water Waves

Too far North, and barely notice,
North, yet swimming in the seas –
Where beaches should be icy-cold,
There’s ice creams, tans, and mushy peas.
There’s little snowfall on the coast
As far as even Sixty-North,
And days of t-shirt weather stretch
For far beyond the Firth of Forth

It’s crazy how the ocean brings
The Caribbean to the Clyde,
While closer to the Pole than even
Fuego is on the other side,
And Trondheim firmly basks within
Antarctic latitudes,
Yet broadleafs line the verdant fjords
To show their gratitude.

And not just warmth arrives all year, but rain –
And rain it is, not snow –
So Western Europe only works because
Its crops and people grow.
Too far North, and that’s the beauty,
Norther than we’ve any right,
When Winter Moons are long above
And Summer Suns last half the night.

I’ve commented before on how much further North Europe is than North America, at least in terms of their respective population centres. For instance, the Southern point of Hudson Bay lies at the same latitude as London – but whereas the former has polar bears, the latter doesn’t even have them in London Zoo.

Wet Rain & Dry Rain

The First Unbrella by an unknown artist

Wet Rain & Dry Rain

A month of Sun, and then a month of rain
All in a day
Of monochrome,
A month of Sun, then get the horrid rain
Out of the way,
While we stay home.

Alas, a month of heat will bake the ground
As hard as clay,
It can’t be tilled –
So when the rain comes down, so fleet,
It floods the river, floods the street,
But cannot penetrate two feet,
And washes off, away.
The aquifer, I fear, is not refilled
By what the clouds have milled.

The thing is, if you want tall trees,
Then what you need is drizzle.
A garden full of bumblebees
Needs flowers, which need drizzle.
For wheat that’s taller than your knees,
For greener grass and fatter peas,
For tamping down your allergies,
You need a May of drizzle.

Three Songs for May

Photo by Pixabay on

Three Songs for May

May comes bounding down the year
As eager as a springer spaniel.
Ev’rybody knows she’s here,
A bursting, blooming, early annual.
May comes blowing from the south
As teasing as a cuckoo’s call
She’s closing up old Winter’s mouth
By throwing off her woollen shawl.

A little rain in May
Is sweeter than an April shower –
Though the high Spring skies may glower,
We know they will not last the day.
The clouds are silvery, not grey,
Less thunderheads than fairy towers,
Washing lambs and spritzing flowers,
Dropping by, then on their way.

May – the name says it all.
The month when it might,
When it should –
Ah, but will it ?
The month that may have a squall
Or a heatwave,
Or a dozen other weathers
Come to fill it.
Could be a late gasp of snow up on the hills
While the valleys open windows,
And the breezes spin the mills.
Such is the fortune
In the month of maybe May.
When all of this could happen
In a week,
Or in a day.


don't be cross


“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”
                                                                                        -Mark 15:33

An eclipse, right ?  It sounds so fine,
Especially when we learn of one,
A total seen in ’29.

Alas, we now can calculate
Down to the nearest minute
And the nearest mile its fate –

And this one was November,
And only nine-tenths partial there –
The dark was still a glowing ember.

The near-miss of ’29 –
The sky was dim, the air was chill,
But the Sun could still outshine.

An hour or so to noon,
And lasting just a hour or two,
So it was over far too soon.

And anyway, it just won’t do –
For Passover was always held
When the Moon was full, not new.

But what about a Lunar one ?
There’s one in April ’33,
At sunset too – job done !

Except…it’s partial, still quite bright,
And it didn’t last an hour in all,
And the only darkness comes with night.

Some suggest volcanic ash instead –
Though that would last for days, and stretch
Throughout the Eastern Med.

Maybe just a heavy storm ?
The legend doesn’t mention rain,
But thunderheads might fit the form.

And yet…is that the best that God
Can rustle up ?  A gloomy afternoon ?
His climax barely gets a nod.

We’re better off with desert dust –
When heavy in the atmosphere
It tints the Moon with rust.

But as the moon sails higher,
So the dust is less through which we peer –
So this one’s not a flyer.

And anyway, how come
There was no-one else wrote down the fact
Of what should strike them dumb ?

Three full hours of dark,
Before the sun had even set ?
Now that should leave its mark !

In our hearts, we know the score –
The sky did not go dark that day.
The world still turned, just as before.

Furtive Fog

Photo by Jou00e3o Cabral on

Furtive Fog

It always starts a ways away,
Funny how it’s never close by –
Up ahead and off behind,
But over there, a little shy.
It seems I’m in a bubble,
In a force-field of my own –
And not a wisp may enter in
My fog-exclusion zone.
It’s not like wrapped in cotton-wool,
And more like in a ping-pong ball –
I’m in the hollow centre here,
And staring at the distant wall.
So only at a certain distance,
In it sweeps, like an afterthought –
Like chasing the end of a rainbow,
So the start of the fog can never be caught.
I’m all alone, like a solipsist,
In a world without a sun –
But where I walk I clear the air,
I drive it out, I make it run.
I’m boiling off the sunken clouds,
I’m pushing back the grey –
So this is no pea-souper,
But a crystal consommé.

Snow Angels

Shepherd Wedding by Jennie Hill

Snow Angels

Strange, how this day of love
Is a day of sneezes and fingers numb.
Why does it fall with a deathly chill
As the hothouse roses succumb ?
Maybe it serves to underscore
How love is often bittersweet –
Whereas, in the height of Summer,
This day would be lost in the endless heat.

Strange, how this day of red
Is a day of snowdrops and Winter mould.
Why does it fall when the days are short
And the nights are bitterly cold ?
Maybe it serves to warm the frost,
And give our torpid hearts a shove –
Whereas, in the height of Summer,
Who needs a reminder to fall in love ?

Snowfall in London

Photo by Yelena Odintsova on

Snowfall in London

Frost fairs upon the Thames, they never happen these days –
Snow just once or twice a year is all we get round here.
Curses to the Gulf Stream, damn your warming ways !
Snow just once or twice a year, and Spring is always near.
And it’s shut down the town again,
It’s shut down the town, my dear,
Shut down the trains and the drains and the pier.

Nobody is ever ready when it comes a-falling,
Never dressed for proper cold in proper Winter gear.
Nobody is ever ready when the snow is balling,
Before they’ve even had a fight, the flurries disappear.
And it’s back to the rain again,
It’s back to the rain, my dear,
Back to the grey – and it’s here to stay, I fear.

Just January

winter veg

Just January

There is time to be festive
And time to be restive,
A time for a breather
From excess and fun.
Janu’ry’s time is busy and new,
For getting to do what we should have got done.

There is time for the goblins,
And squirrels and robins,
A time for Orion
And waiting for snow.
Janu’ry’s time is starry and dark –
The weather is stark and the sun is hung low.

There is time to prepare
For the snowdrop and hare –
It’s time to plant onions
And harvest the swedes.
Janu’ry’s time is whitened and browned,
Spent prepping the ground and in sowing the seeds

There is time for mysterious,
Time for the serious,
Time to be golden,
And time to be grey.
Janu’ry’s time is the sober and young,
For getting things done in the short Winter day.