Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Laughing, loving and loved

I am back home again after a wonderful whirlwind of a weekend in Somerset celebrating my brother's 40th birthday.

Unfortunately because of the animals we could only be away for the one night - not fair to impose on the neighbours for longer than that! So we drove down on Saturday, having first picked up my Goddess-daughter Rachel (who attends University nearby) and her new boyfriend. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive, having only met him once before for about 30 seconds! The idea of a 3+ hour car journey trying to make polite chit-chat with a virtual stranger was a bit daunting.

I needn't have worried. He is lovely - and they are so wrapped up in eachother chit-chat was quite superfluous anyway. Driving down through blinding spring sunshine and squally showers, with the two of them giggling and flirting together, I found myself with a huge grin on my face as their happiness permeated the entire car. I felt like a teenager again myself. Oh, first love! There's really nothing like it is there?

The party itself was wonderful! It was such a joy to walk into the room and find so many loved ones there! My brother is a professional Henry VIIIth re-enactor (his website is here: http://www.goodkinghal.co.uk/) so the party had a Tudor theme: many people (including yours truly) had come in Tudor fancy dress (some more historically accurate than others!), and authentic Tudor food was served - plentiful and delicious. The entertainment included live music from a wonderful folk duo, and - one of my personal highlights - a half-hour comedy playlet penned by my brother, enhanced by much witty ad-libbing and hilariously wonky sound effects. It was one of those evenings during which at some point you look around and think how lucky you are just to be here, with these people, laughing, loving and loved.

Oak has written on a similar theme recently in 'I am the wealthy one', on her blog (http://branchesup.blogspot.com/), and today I feel like agreeing, 'Oh yes, me too, me too!!'

Monday, 12 February 2007

One of the Good Guys

The loss of some people seems to hit harder than others. Last Thursday, the first day we had all that snow, was the funeral of my neighbour - let's call him Jack.

Jack was a retired farmer who bred and trained sheepdogs. He carved walking sticks from hedgerow cuttings. He loved to sing. He was always cheerful, steadfast, rosy-cheeked, always had a twinkle in his eye that spoke of his love for life. As one of my other neighbours said, 'He was one of those people you never heard a bad word about'.

A couple of weeks ago, he lost a brief, brutal battle with cancer, and last Thursday amidst the snow, he was buried.

I didn't really know him very well, we were neighbours, not really friends. We socialised a little, but we never sat together sharing confidences. Yet I find myself thinking about him, mourning his loss. I hear a tractor coming up the lane and look to see if it's Jack so I can wave, and then I remember. I feel for his family and wish there was something I could do to comfort them.

The world seems emptier tonight knowing Jack is no longer in it. He really was one of the good guys and I miss him.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Blimey, those groundhogs really know their stuff!

Hard to believe how much the weather has changed since my last post. On Tuesday night it got down to -7ºC overnight. It was still -6ºC when I got up to see to the animals. We usually leave the chickens' drinker along with a couple of watering cans of water in the (heated) greenhouse on frosty nights, as the taps often freeze up making it impossible to give the animals fresh water. It was so cold on Wednesday morning that the chicken drinker and watering cans all had thick layers of ice in them - doesn't bode well for my precious fuschias and geraniums that are overwintering in there.

This morning we awoke to a thick fall of snow blanketing everything and looking absolutely beautiful. Not so much fun though when you have to slip your way through it to let the geese & chickens out of their houses! We have had to net over the top of the chicken run due to a psycho buzzard that was attacking them, and the weight of snow has brought all that down - sigh. Also, the chickens were too freaked by the sight of the snow to come out anyway.

Angel the gander was similarly perturbed, and refused to leave his warm shed. His mate, Buffy (true to her namesake!) showed no such qualms and braved the alien landscape, much to Angel's distress. He shouted himself hoarse from the shed telling her what a rash, impulsive, reckless fool she was. Women, eh? Eventually when he realised nothing worse than being first at the food bowl and the pond this morning had befallen her he plucked up his courage and emerged. Meanwhile the chickens, making those little 'awwwwr' noises that seem to be Chickenese for 'No good will come of it - it'll all end in tears you know!' had finally appeared outside and were standing around looking suitably scandalised.

It's much milder this morning and I doubt the snow will last the day. Still, it looks pretty!

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Imbolc Musings

Imbolc was a beautiful day here in West Wales. It started off a bit dull & murky, but by afternoon the sun had broken through and it was bright and more surprisingly, warm. Positively shirt-sleeves weather. They don't have groundhogs here in Wales, but if they did the groundhogs would not only have been able to see their shadows but they would probably have been wearing knotted hankies on their heads and rolling up their trouser legs.

Global warming certainly seems a reality on a day like this, albeit not a harsh one.

After cleaning out the chooks, I took a stroll down the hill to look at my bees, and they were out in force enjoying the balmy weather. There's really not that much bee fodder available this early, even though it has been an extraordinarily mild winter, so I was relieved to see them making full use of the gorse blossom near their hive. The snowdrops haven't yet opened, but there are daffodils in the bottom of the hedge that are nearly out, and on the way back to the house I found a clump of crocuses opening wide smiling faces to the sun.

I'm always happy to see the first signs of spring but under my happiness there is a little shiver of apprehension. This isn't the way it's supposed to be.

Yet while it's mild and sunny and the weather's not extreme, there's a great temptation to just enjoy it. And the bees seem content.