I thought I would go back through the archives. I can see you returned with this gem. And why not? (Barry Took reference) lol
The title was always going to pull in the punters, making them wonder what everyone, including a badger would find strange.
Stanza 1 - the onomatopoeia in the word crunch pleased me as did the comparison of the 'stubborn mist' the alliterations didn't pass me by either. The short remark worked well, allowing the reader a flavour of your perspective. This led on nicely to the: 'pregnant fields' and the loss of this ripeness/fullness of wheat, only to be destroyed by unseasonal weather. The reader can only feel the pain and wonder if the word pregnant is perhaps more than a metaphor for the dying of a crop?
Stanza 2 - You can't beat mentioning a month to project a time for the reader. September (end of October) can mean different things to different people. Harvest, middle age or perhaps a significant month for the writer? I like the rhyme of, 'dawn and warm' The imagery of those rosy cheeks made my child mind smile. The image of cold buttocks! lol Sorry, I am damn sure this was not your intent, more the symbolism of cheeks that are cold or cherubic? The mention and contrast again of fullness and bleakness makes me think of a loss too soon. . .
Stanza 3 - The poem, the journey moves from the fields to the river. Water as we know can depict a journey and this river is no exception. Its usual 'friendly bend' and pleasing 'trickle' have been dashed with a contrasting image: a frozen river, its' colour whitewashed out by the white of its banks. As for the sound, it too, muted, silenced before its time. Cruel.
Stanza 4 - 'a tick' like an involuntary movement or sound at a sight or sound that brought the narrator back to his senses. Good job too! I like the alliteration of the 'st' sounds, leading nicely into the 'ch' of chill. The mention of 'noon' shows the passage of time, and as we all know, time can heal wounds and allow us time to see things a little differently. The woods are there and from this perspective a different interpretation. I like the the use of the words 'chill' and 'still' I always like rhyme and rarely see it over used. I guess its the wrapper in me that made me choke!?
Stanza 5 - ok, here we are final stanza. By this time, the writer knows the end, he just needs to write it. There is much in life we can explain. In fact I learned the other day that the world is, in fact, not flat! Imagine that! I think we do like to have explanations, but I wonder if we really want answers or do we want truths? The fact that a rather unusual hard frost wiped out the farmers ripe crop may be due to cows not knowing if they should lay down or stand up. If we have an answer, any answer, many of us will settle for that. A poet may seek his answer in simple contemplation and observation. Allow time to move forward until the answers are found within, or at least in the badgers knowing eyes. Strange is just what nature does.
Ben, this is a poem that, I am sure, will help answer many peoples questions, or at least help them on their way. What I do know, is the act of musing and writing it helps the writer most of all.