"But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.
It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.
In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.
Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales."
from Slough (1937)
by John Betjeman
We took our first canoe trip on the larger slough by my
brother-in-law’s field. While this year has been wet, last
year we experienced a drought with early summer marred
by the smoke and stench of devastating wildfires hundred
of miles to the north. This drought meant reduced hay yields
last year and the level of the slough is noticeably lower this
year. Sloughs or potholes are not feed by springs or part of
river systems. They obtain water via rain, snow melt and
groundwater so any reduction can be quickly apparent.
We did not see any herons or kingfishers which could
indicate a higher mortality among over wintering fish
due to reduced oxygen. The water was certainly lower.
This is always an interesting cycle to watch. My copy
of Wildfowl Carving Magazine, Winter 2016 (70) noted
“Blue-winged teal populations dropped by a worrisome
40 percent in the prairie pothole region North America
during a prolonged 1990’s drought, but their numbers
doubled within a decade when the rains returned."
”My wife and I certainly remember this drought when the
roadside sloughs drained like bathtubs. The beaver population
also plummeted, it has now recovered, they are literally
everywhere taking down trees and blocking culverts.
My mother-in-law mentioned that in earlier droughts
the family actually hayed parts of the areas we paddled
"Come friendly bombs, and fall on Jersey;
Each town and city along the Mersey;
Destroy Southampton, the West Midlands, too;
And, for a starting-point, that ought to do."
"Kind bombs, pray smite all points between
The Nullarbor Plain and the Forest of Dean.
And last of all, oh bombs, come fall on me;
For writing such abysmal poetry :) "
both verses from Slough Revisted
by William Mark