Call of the Summer lands

Caught in this stream whilst falling asleep under last night’s “mackerelled moon”. An oddly, out of season, theme which made little sense till the title came at the last.

“Moon and Mackerel Sky Over Woodbridge”
Copyright: Phillip Hirst


“Scythe mown”
Copyright: Scythe Cymru

I thought I heard you call last night.

Maybe it was the moon; full and bright;
shy, flirting, in a dark mackerel sky;
stars playing peek-a-boo amongst
the shoals of silvered clouds.
An ocean sky, yearning to clear,
but not, quite, able.

How I miss the fresh cold of mountain air;
and the silence, absolute on a night like this,
far from Neptune’s incessant sigh,
and bubbling, rolling, salty breath.
Here, only the silence of foxes can catch
the dove’s night song in the far wood.

I thought I heard you call last night.

“Family hay raking” Copyright: Found at

As the sun beat hard the tin barn roof,
I looked down on Summers past:
scent of hay; scorched grass, dry herb, and
hot, stale, sweat on brown parchment skin;
‘shwisht’, the grey sward turned, ‘creak’,
of a strained rake peg, step, twist, push, pull;

repeat: an easy rhythm of sun-beat hours,
stretched between hot sweet tea and
ice-cold lemonade at the ‘home turn’;
peewit cry, curlew warble, crow caws;
a clutch of field mice in the safety of the dyke;
the horseflies: God, the horseflies…

“Hay stack”
Copyright: Flickr User Basil and Tracey Found at kuriositas

I thought I heard you call last night.

You must have been the age I am now,
that Spring: Tiny byre-ridden, and I never could
get the scythe as sharp as you; twist and ‘shwishk’,
four inch, perfect arc, no ‘Mohican’, twist and step;
repeat; till a cow’s worth of soft, new grass is borne
on the back, wrapped in last Summer’s stook cap.

You wouldn’t recognise that prized ley,
now planted to birch, elder and ash:
gone, the sweet ‘timothy’, ‘saxifrage’ and ‘betony’,
gone, the peewit, the curlew, the crow.
Probably best; lost arts: stooking up, combing down,
tying out with a hay-tight knot.

I thought I heard you call last night.

“Bringing home”
Family picture


#1 ‘Stook cap’, traditional topping of a haystack, in SW Scotland at least. Consisted of a large hessian square, tied off with light rope at each corner. The cap was thrown over the top of the stack (‘stook’) and the ropes, pulled tight, tied off to a loop of hay pulled from the bottom of the stack.

Hopefully the rest makes sense in context… 😉

Background: as a child growing up on a farm, we grew around 5 acres of hay each year, mostly with the aid of heavy machinery. Except, that is, about 1/3 of an acre which, apart from the latter years, we wrought by hand. It seemed the perfect mixture of grasses and herbs, and produced the lightest, driest, sweetest smelling hay, pretty much in the county – others may lay claim to such, but the proof is always in the eating!

About A Misanthropic Bear

Intermittent posting of random touchstones, memories and events. This wasn't meant to be what it would become... But then, is it ever?
This entry was posted in Healing, Self Awareness, Travels and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Call of the Summer lands

  1. Adele Marie says:

    These words took me back to my childhood, before the threshing machine when we would build stooks. Loved this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It brought back to me my youth, already so many years ago, when I used to help my grandmother in the fields… the hay was mainly for her cows, but I loved to roll myself in the fresh hay before it was staked. The smell, the feeling of freshness on the skin… such lovely memories are gone!
    Yes, a real pleasure to read! :-)claudine

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Call of the Summer lands – Running Elk | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  4. alienorajt says:

    I love this. It is beautifully written and so evocative – brings back memories of my childhood, and of living on a farm in West Wales many years ago. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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