Thursday, 26 August 2010

As the seasons change

There's logs "aplenty", gathered and stacked for the coming change in the season, which seems to have started somewhat earlier this year.

The crop's been harvested in the field behind and it seems to me that mother nature is taking her deep breath before exhaling and allowing the fantastic colour change, and carpet of leaves, that comes with the onset of Autumn.

At home, there's also a poignant feeling in the air - The dogs seem somewhat pensive, as if they understand that Carmen won't be snuggling up with them in front of the fire anymore. She so loved this time of year, looking forward to"nestling in" for the cold damp months - We both did, which has only highlighted, once again, that bastard called "grief". Just when you feel that you're begining to move forward, it jumps out, and punches you right on the end of the nose.

Like me, it appears that the dogs, too, still have plenty of grieving to face. When I arrive home, Alfie has started running to Carmen's side of the car again, wagging his tale excitedly until he realises that she's not getting out - He sniffs the bottom of the door, then turns on his heels and morosely walks indoors holding his head down low. The "Sisters Grimm" seem sullen and reflective. If only animals could speak.....

The fire's lit, I'm completely self sufficent this year, with my own, hazel, ash, yew, beech, cherry and willlow. Carmen would be so excited by this, she so loved when I prepared the seasoned wood. Come to think of it, she loved everything good about life.

It won't be long before the clocks turn back. If only I could turn them back by more than one hour, to happier days.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Steve McQueen

So there I was, on a usually quiet Sunday afternoon in the garden, when I realise that the dogs are unusually quite. So I stick my head around the side of the shed, and, much to my suprise, see two of the chickens (The Burfords - A cotswold rare breed) outside the coup, merrily nibbling away at the grass. "That's funny how did they get out"? I ponder, a quick walk around one side of the pen doesn't highlight anything untoward. The Buff Orpingtons are there, merrily scratching over yesterday's grass clippings, alongside "the Assylum Seekers"(ex battery hens, that we rescued last year), so I decide to look around the other side of the coup, which runs alongside a conifer hedge.

Unfortunately, as is often the case this time of year in the countryside, Mr. Rat and his family have moved into the vicinity, and there under the hedge was the answer. The back end of one of the Jack Russell Terrorists was just about visible about four foot underground, in a newly dug tunnel, behind which was a hole under the fence, big enough for Orson Wells to limbo under! Steve McQueen and his comrades would have been proud of such a tunnel.

So I drag the culprit out, who is far more interested in the scent of a certain long tailed rodent, and proceed to fill the hole with rubble, soil and then fox proof the run, again.

But how could I be cross with such a funny looking dog? Clearly in her element, I don't think she'd had such fun in ages. A picture paints, (or pants?), a thousand words.

I had the last laugh when the dog shampoo came out, as I popped her into the Belfast sink. "Thank heavens I haven't got a Great Dane", I think, as she does a great mid-air doggie paddle impression, before landing in "her bath". Only another two to do, before the dog shampoo gets put away!

Friday, 9 April 2010

When we walked in fields of gold

Now that "spring has sprung", mother nature's
creation of new life, seems more poignant than
ever. I must confess that, like C, my favourite season, due to the dramatic colour changes, has always been autumn - However, the new buds, bulbs and flowers, combined with the shrill of courting birds, has proved to be a welcome tonic, as I move forward.

I live on the Glos./Herefords. borders, and this area is well known for it's wild daffodil fields at this time of year. We always enjoyed a trip to the Kempley daffodil walk, and felt so lucky and privileged to listen to the tourists commenting on the surroundings. Even now, I can hear C giggle and say to me, with the look of an excited child; "we live here". Although both "incomers", we were immensely lucky to have found such a lovely area to live in.

Years ago, before Dr. Beeching took his axe to the old railway network, locals would be busy around now, picking daffs, to be taken by railway, direct to London, to be sold next day on the London wholesale markets. Nowadays, the commercial sale of this local crop has ended, but the "daffodil walks" still prove popular with visitors.

I'm very lucky, my neighbours opposite have a wild crop of their own, away from the eyes of the visitors, which seems to expand further into one of their orchards each year. It's a little oasis of gold, in a quiet field, in a quiet corner of England. Not far from where the war poet, Rupert Brooke stayed before going off to fight in "the war to end all wars".

As well as the daffs, piglets and lambs, there's also been another new arrival at the farm. The first male child to be born there in over 100 years. Those of you who followed C's blog will have read of the country wedding we attended two summers ago. Well the stork has arrived and delivered a beautiful bundle of joy.

Mother nature is all powerful - As she takes with one hand, she gives with the other.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

And then it snowed!

Grief is a many sided monster: Anger, frustration, fear, sorrow, missed opportunities, questions, dashed hopes, a huge void, but also, thankfully, many happy memories.

What hurts so much, is knowing that I can't share my joy, laughs and thoughts with the person I want to. However, losing C so young, has made me even more determined to live my life to the full. After all, C, without a doubt, the bravest person that I have, or indeed, ever will have known, wasn't scared of dying. However, she was really frightened by the thought of not living.

We had so many hopes, plans, ideas and aspirations, and I owe it to to her memory to ensure that I live my life to the full, for us both. She didn't get the chance, so I must not, and will not, squander my opportunity. I've got a plan of action, but more of that when I'm ready to move forward. I've promised myself, no hasty decisions. After all, it's only been seven weeks. Already it seems like seven years. I'm steadily getting back into the flow of life. I'm back at work, and have even visited the dentist. And yes, I did leave a ha'penny in her magic fairy tree! And then what happened?

And then it snowed............. And how C used to love the snow too!

If the fairies had sprinkled their magical white dust over the landscape during the night, the look of delight on her face in the morning was something to behold. As if the earth has been transformed into some peaceful, virginal landscape, as if wiping the slate clean and starting afresh, with everything the same colour........White.

The Three Musketeers love the snow too. Three little kangaroos, bouncing around like miniature Kangas, or maybe even Piglets with Pooh on a woozle hunt?

Well, we jumped over the style and wandered up the field. C loved the trees, and today they seemed even more magical, being covered in their fairy dust. Twinkling in the sunlight like christmas tree lights - It was only a few months ago that C seeked my reassurance that it wouldn't be the last time that she put up our own christmas tree decorations. "Of course not love, you'll be fine" What else could I say? Anyway, I really believed that she would be fine. How wrong can a man be?

C would often wonder what the trees had seen in the course of their lives. People coming and going, landscapes changing, farmers, walkers, lovers, or people like me, just collecting their thoughts, and their Jack Russell Terriers, that is, if they can find them!

Well, it's strange that I think on such a peaceful morning, that the particular oak tree that I stop at, has also played witness to war, to my mind, on two occasions -The first was the English Civil War. Apparently there was a skirmish in this field. I know this from metal detecting with my friend here. Although I've not been so lucky, he's found musket balls, a lead powder keg as well as some Stuart period coinage. The last one was a James I silver shilling. Now that was a lot of money to lose. A shilling!!! What would that have bought in it's day?

And the other war I mentioned? Not so many years ago, this one. The farm is now run by his son, but his father, who passed away a few years, was a wartime Lancaster pilot. He was, unlike my own uncle, one of the "lucky" ones who came home in 1945. He came home with a DFC and Bar, after 60 operational sorties. Not many lasted that long. But before he came home, he had flown his Lanc. directly over the farm, on a "flying visit" which is still much talked to this day. I wonder if the old oak tree remembers it?

I follow their tracks and find the dogs. Well, as far as I can tell, no woozles today, but I think a couple of rabbits had a lucky escape! As I towel the dogs down, I'm pleased to notice that I left the kettle on the rayburn. Time for tea with a generous slice of apple and sultana cake, me thinks!