Orion, descending

I watched the hunter trot toward the back gate and I realised that he was walking like an old dog. It's hard to describe exactly what has changed, but he's slower to start moving. He no longer springs into action. His muzzle is white underneath now and those pale hairs creep up the sides of his face. He noticeably pants from pain, from time to time and his hips sometimes click as he walks. When Lady Snoutingdingle walks him, he will often stop or slow down. When I walk him, he carries dogfully on, hiding any discomfort from me. I'm learning to tell the difference.



Asleep in the Churchyard, part 2.

Notre Dame burns. No one dies. Days later terrorists destroy churches across Sri Lanka killing hundreds of Easter Sunday worshippers. The different reactions to these two events will haunt me. It is true, of course, that churches and Death quietly slip their hands together when no one is watching and that, perhaps, is why I'm reluctant to embrace it. The church that is.

 Meanwhile in the Night Planted Orchard everything is in full cry. The cherries are clusters of white fireworks. The apple-blossom buds are fat pink and white cherubs. The pears are almost done. The quince blossoms are blousy and rival any magnolia. In the extraordinary April heat, the mixture of scents is a joy. Best of all, the fruits on the medlar are already fattening in the sun, reaching for the light like the beaks of birds, or miniature Gaudan pinnacles. There is an argument over who said 'God is in the details', but nature, it seems, can build a cathedral on every branch whenever it feels like it.


Asleep in the Old Churchyard

One of the perils of booking a service through third - or possibly fourth and fifth parties - is that the provider of that service has free rein to stuff one royally at the last minute. With Lady Snoutingdingle's long planned weekend away in tatters, we trawled the last-minute sites to find somewhere to stay. In our younger day, we would have piled into the automobile and headed for the hills, going as far as the traffic would let us and then availing ourselves of the services of those nice ladies they used to have in Tourist Offices who knew every B&B for fifty miles and would sort you out in a jiffy. These days, with the Old Hunter unable to 'do stairs' our options are a bit more strictly limited. We found somewhere in the Peak District. A charming chapel conversion.

In a graveyard.

Naturally we assumed that the aforementioned graveyard would be a few old headstones, half hidden in the grass, wobbling distance from a pub. Not so. It was a full-on graveyard in current use, surrounded on all sides by high walls, and a forbidding wrought-iron gate at the boundary. It was well tended, and flowers were struggling out of hibernation in the bushes and on the trees. I couldn't help thinking that the winking eyes of the flowers were, in fact, composed of bits of long-dead persons hauled from their sleepy hollows by unrepentant roots. In the sun, it was beautiful and the chapel was beautifully appointed. In the rain, its charm faded a little. At night, with no external lights, those watchful blooms seemed even more like eyes than before.

The Old Hunter loved it, of course, not least when he returned from some foray with a large peice of bone. I assume that it was not human.

By far the dominant feature of the graveyard was a magnificent Horse Chestnut tree. It filled one corner and coated the floor with both conkers and the old skins of conkers which the Hunter muttered about as they stabbed his paws. She had nine trunks, each too thick to wrap my arms around, and each trunk reached up over a hundred feet, like a great crown festooned with pyramids of flowers. I wondered what kind of soil might breed such a tree, but of course, the graveyard was richly endowed. I looked up at the tree and it looked down at me with a million tiny, blinking eyes. In the way of such co-incidences I have recently become besotted with a traditional song by the Wailin' Jennys whose version* contains the lines:

But were I at rest 'neath yonder tree
Why would you weep, my friends, for me?


When I sleep in the graveyard, I can only dream that some part of me will become something so magnificent whether it be a tree or a song.



*other versions are available.


A Wolf By The Ear

Visiting the battlefield memorials at Manassas, I saw this quotation by Thomas Jefferson.

"But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go"

This is from a time when people were trying to reconcile irreconcilable tensions. Their compromises attempted to maintain an impossible balance which slowly failed. Today is the equinox and like the equinox, the balance of light and dark forces can only be temporary. In the USA, in due course 600,000 people died when that balance collapsed.





Three Beautiful Things

I lost my mojo for a while, but in the great wilderness of negativity that is The Internet, I think it's important to remind myself that there are jewels of positivity out there, and one of them is  three beautiful things. Although the original has had its final curtain, it's easy enough to find others who have been inspired. I intend to add my tributes once in a while.

  1. Grey trees dusted with bright green.
  2. The first fat bumble-bee of the year trundles past, mumbling at the cold.
  3. Two small boys, not conforming to their stereotype, walking along the road talking one aged about five, one aged about eight. The little on puts his arm around the other's back, and the bigger one puts his arms over the other's shoulder and they walk along in step.