A Party in Paddock Wood
In Paddock Wood, on Bepton Down, there’s a rustling by the oak,
For every year, at Michaelmas, there’s a gathering of local folk.
From within the wood they gather round to do their special dance,
As hand in hand all spin around – and to the tree trunk do advance.
Neighbours all within the downland wood, they meet this special day
To say goodbye to summertime and the gathering of the hay;
To welcome in the coming fall when leaves will tumble to the ground,
To pray for winter warmth, a time of plenty for all around.
The doormouse greets the sleepy vole, his friend from long ago,
Telling yarns of yesteryear, when by the streams they’d go,
Playing by the water’s edge as youngsters always will.
They laugh about those days gone by – to them, they’re youthful still!
Beneath the oak, the hedgehog plays his beloved violin;
He strokes the bow to make the sound that fills the woodland glen.
His joyous notes in rapid style bring the dancers on
As round the oak they laugh and clap, at the rising tempo of the song.
The singer is the mighty owl, with the voice of a baritone;
He sings in operatic style of love and loss – of ladies he has known.
His booming sound fills the dusk time air, which is warm from the setting sun,
Whilst the dancers move around the oak, in syncopated union.
The vixen stands beside the bar with Sauvignon in her hand;
She surveys the scene with a gentle smile – she loves this South Downs land;
The chalk and flint, the wooded hills, secret paths in the countryside;
She knows all the tracks and hidden ways where a cunning fox can hide.
Beside her stands a smiling hare, whose ears are strangely long.
He chats politely with pleasantries, this strange peace to prolong,
For enmity is cast aside when neighbours meet at Michaelmas.
A gathering of creatures sweet – what more could you want or ask?
The badger dances with the agile stoat, who’s specially brushed his coat;
The blackbird soars with his kestrel friend, whilst relating anecdote,
Below, the the adder soaks up the welcome heat,
The weasel lies contented, tummy full, satisfied, replete.
The mouse-eared bat sleeps through the noise, and is wisely left in peace.
But he alone ignores the party sounds – even a passing geese
Pauses to enjoy the magic of this day, and wonders if she’ll stay,
To make her home here, in this hidden hideaway.
As the sun goes down the air gets chill, so logs go on the fire;
Chestnuts warm in the brightening glow as the crackling flames lick higher.
All gather round for the special song that will end the ceremony,
The words of which are sung by every animal living wild and free:
“We thank you for the harvest rains that feed the food we eat,
We thank you for the summer’s sun that gives us warmth and heat,
We thank you for all the creatures living here today.
But, most of all, we pray Mankind will simply keep away”.