29.10.12 | The End Of The Year
Halloween isn't about ghosts and goblins and ghouls. It's about welcoming your ancestors and departed relatives and loved ones into this world and keeping the unwanted "others" out. It's the ONE day of the year that you can make peace with the past and wrongs you have given and suffered. It's the one day of the year when you can tell a dead person that you love them and be sure that they are listening. It's the day when the dead time begins. When the world falls asleep and the boundaries between the waking world and... other places are thinnest...
Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can hear them reply, too. So light your pumpkins as landing strips to guide the special dead into your homes and ward the darker spirits away. This is a day as important as Longest Night.
So, to my ancestors on the coast of Cornwall and in Keswick and further north in Scotland... i bid a deep affectionate welcome. And the best greeting of all i save for my father.
11.10.12 | September 2012. Dawn
Across the cold fields at dawn, scattering sheep as i sought my view in the morning mists, i saw a white shape lying on the floor in the distance.
She was sleeping i hoped, but no. Her rest, i quickly discerned. was endless as i approached her. No breathing. That was the first thing i looked for. Other details became apparent; the single rigid and pink nipple, wrinkled and darkening at the tip. The missing eyes- no doubt a tasty morsel for a crow. The tired way she lay. I could see no obvious injuries, aside from the eyes. Perhaps she died of old age and this was her time. Looking about me, i saw two lambs watching me. Was this their mother? Were they hungry? I wondered sadly if they still sought milk from those teats.
It is never easy to confront a death. Either in a human or animal. Tweo weeks ago, i heard my neighbours dog being hit by a car and crying. Looking out of the window, i saw her half sitting on the ground, yelping, and two yong girls from the car leant down, picked her up and brought her to my neighbours door. The yelping stopped then. And i cried for a little Jack Russell terrier called Patch.
But here's the rub: I am guided. In these woods and valleys with the little river running near my home. I couldn't tell you who guides me. God or angels or the faeries of this area. (Yes i believe in the faeries. They leave me little gifts to find, i think. Their home is in the dark and shadowy Thursden Valley upstream.... and today, as i clumsily and noisily made my way through trackless bracken, dense and clinging, i found two eggs.
Two eggs. They looked like hens eggs. And out of all the wide expanse of woodland to choose. The chicken or whatever it was, had laid them right in front of my path. A metre left or right and i would have missed them. And it reminded me of this poem by Philip Larkin
On the day of the explosion
Shadows pointed towards the pithead:
In thesun the slagheap slept.
Down the lane came men in pitboots
Coughing oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke
Shouldering off the freshened silence.
One chased after rabbits; lost them;
Came back with a nest of lark's eggs;
Showed them; lodged them in the grasses.
So they passed in beards and moleskins
Fathers brothers nicknames laughter
Through the tall gates standing open.
At noon there came a tremor; cows
Stopped chewing for a second; sun
Scarfed as in a heat-haze dimmed.
The dead go on before us they
Are sitting in God's house in comfort
We shall see them face to face--
plian as lettering in the chapels
It was said and for a second
Wives saw men of the explosion
Larger than in life they managed--
Gold as on a coin or walking
Somehow from the sun towards them
One showing the eggs unbroken.
Philip Larkin :
And i remembered that Larkin was using the eggs as they had been used a million times before, symbolically, to show that life goes on. That it continues. And i thought about the video i made for m father. Left on youtube. Half an hour of meandering that he never saw. but it was circular and perfect in its way. Beginning in the rich life of the local woodland and ending at the Church and graveyard of St James, where he married my mother. I made the video for him and for Ruth, who lost her mother, too. I doubt she'll ever see it, but those who care to look will find it.
And the message for me? Don't give up. I think that's what it said. "Life goes on. So live". I'll do my best. Thank you, spirits or whatever you are.