This Weekly Photo Challenge. is the word Muse and it has given me a lot to think about. On reflection I believe my muse is the natural world. It provides memorable, magnificent moments when my spirit soars with the spectacle before me. This is usually when I am on my own, in silence, in the countryside. Wide open pastures, woodland filled with wildflowers and birdsong, snow-capped mountains, cool crashing waterfalls, tumbling streams and majestic rivers. These are what excite me. Acres of colourful, cultivated flowers, or a single poppy bursting into life uplifts me and carries me away from the mundane. These are the moments that matter. this is when heaven happens and I just have to capture it with my camera or with a blogpost.
These days I don’t do much travelling, but I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of the world. Whatever the season there is always something sublime to see within a short journey. And, if I can’t get out, I can always enjoy nature’s efforts in my garden.
In January there are snowdrops, crocuses and hellebores, and often snow on the Cotswold Hills. Then I take myself off to Painswick or Sherborne to enjoy them.
In February the first primroses and wild daffodils appear. There is frost on the ground and skeletal trees when the first lambs and goat kids are born. That’s when I go to the Golden Triangle.
In March the magnolias burst into flower and blackthorn gleams white in the hedgerow. Hyacinths smells fragrant and frogspawn appears in the pond.
In April there are cowslips on the Common and blossom on the fruit trees and in hedgerows. This is the prefect time to go on the Blossom Trail around Evesham. By the time Easter arrives the new lambs and baby rabbits are out in the fields and the lilac trees are in full flower.
In May fields of yellow rapeseed sweep far into the distance, and yellow and orange poppies brighten up the roadside. Self-seeded Lily of the Valley fill the border under my fruit trees.
In June it’s off to the woods to see the Bluebells and wild garlic which grows by the roadside. Bright red poppies appear in the fields and roses fill the gardens
In July I go to Wick near Pershore to see acres of delphiniums, which are grown to be dried and sold as natural confetti. On the way back I stop to admire the blue Linseed fields outside Elmley Castle. Now is the time to pick cherries from the trees and strawberries from the fields.
By August I am picking apples, pears and blackberries daily and storing or freezing them for winter. In Pershore the plum festival is held and there are sunflowers to see and lavender fields to visit!
But September is my favourite time. There are conkers and cob nuts to collect. The Cotswold countryside is a giant nature table with a cloth of autumnal colours.
October means pumpkins, root vegetables, toffee apples and fudge. It’s time to go to Westonbirt Arboretum for the best display of Maples turning red outside of Japan.
November means baked potatoes, nourishing soups and bonfires, foggy mornings and falling leaves. Time to head to the park to watch them dance in the wind!
Things quieten down in December but there are fir trees and holly bushes to admire. Christmas lights glisten in the houses, shops and streets. I head off to Stratford on Avon to see them at their best.
One of my favourite quotes is
Let thy soul walk softly in thee
As a saint in heaven unshod
For to be alone with silence
Is to be alone with God
I went to Taize one summer when it was so hot and dry that the magnificent River Loire had almost dried up in places. Too hot to stay in the car I decided to walk for a while across the fields and I had an amazing experience. At the foot of the hill were fields of sunflowers, corn and poppies. I stood alone in a field full of sunflowers, looking up towards the church, as a gentle breeze blew. The wind caused the flowers to bend and the sound they made was so strange. I experienced what I can only describe as the spirit moving.
Today’s Haiku prompt at Carpe Diem reminded me of that moment.
Soft wind whispering
Spirit moving through the corn
Speaking to my soulIt reminded me strongly of the beautiful words of one of my favourite hymns:Be still for the presence of the LordBe still for the presence of the Lord The holy one is hereCome bow before him now With reverence and fearIn him no sin is found We stand on holy groundBe still for the presence of the Lord The holy one is hereBe still for the power of the Lord Is moving in this placeHe comes to cleanse and heal To minister his graceNo work too hard for him In faith receive from himBe still for the power of the Lord Is moving in this place
She’s 5 going on 25 with long red hair that gets tangled in the shower. She has a smiley face and the loveliest nature. She lives with her brother who’s 8. He has the same red hair but short. He’s cool with a cheeky grin and a mischievous nature. They live in a small market town in Wiltshire with mum, dad, 2 guinea pigs and a whippet-cross dog from the rescue centre.
She loves to copy her mum; her hair, her makeup, her clothes, and especially her jewellery!
She would love to go horse riding, but it costs too much, so she goes trampolining instead. I watch open mouthed as she bounces; doing front drops, swivel hips, back somersaults, straddles and turns. She is fearless.
He loves to copy his dad; playing football, tennis and golf; soaking up anything sporty. 2012 will be his best year yet, Olympics in Great Britain, what a dream! He is already collecting commemorative 50 pence pieces. He knows every design and every sport. He has collected 15 so far with 14 to go. I could order him a complete set but there’s no fun in that. It is far better to search in pockets, purses and change.
I love it when they come to stay for the weekend to give mum and dad a break. All thoughts of housework fly out of the window as our home is transformed into a tiny version of Disneyland. We do beading and baking, chalk patterns on the patio, create fairyland in the shed, tie imaginary horses to the gazebo and sail pirate ships on a gravel ocean.
He wanders off to find grandad. She sits on my knee and we chat. Tugging at my gold cross and chain she asks,
“Grandma, why do you always wear that?”
“My mummy wears pretty necklaces. She changes them all of the time. She has lots.”
I’ve heard this question before and I usually say,
“I wear it to remind me of my dad because he bought it for me a long time ago.” And that’s true, but today I will tell her the whole story.
A long time ago before your mummy and daddy met, your daddy lived by the seaside in Somerset in a fisherman’s cottage. The cottage was 200 years old and it was a wreck when he bought it. It had pine panelling all over the kitchen and lounge. When he took the panelling down he found 57 types of mould growing on the inside walls. It was very colourful mould, some of it quite pretty, but not healthy to live with, so he had to pay someone to come and treat it. The cottage roof leaked, the windows didn’t open, and the walls were damp. But bit by bit he repaired it and made it beautiful. He put on a new roof, damp-proofed the walls, sealed the floors, replaced the windows and doors, and put in a new white bathroom. He did all this quite cheaply because he searched through scrap yards for things he could use. One day he found an old church window in a scrap yard and he bought it for his bathroom. He knocked down part of the wall and put in the beautiful stained glass window. It was full of colour, rich red and blue, and it had angels on it. When the sun shone into the bathroom it glowed with a heavenly light.
Now he was happy with his cottage and he decided to invite the whole family down for the weekend to celebrate the end of the work. Grandma and Grandad went of course, and your daddy’s three sisters. They were teenagers then and they had a little mini car which they shared.
It was a perfect weekend, sunny and warm. We scrambled on the beach and hunted for bits of pink quartz washed out of the rocks by the tide. I still have them in the garden.
I had my cross and chain on then too, it wasn’t long after my dad died. I felt that when I wore it he was close to me and he would watch over me and keep me safe.
It was a long and tiring day so we all went to bed early. I took my cross and chain off and put it on the cabinet beside the bed. We slept really well then got up early to go home. I had a shower in the bathroom and I was fascinated by the coloured lights shining through the stained glass window. It was so beautiful that I said a little prayer before we left. I said thank you for my beautiful family and thank you for a lovely weekend. Then off we set for home.
On the way back home I realised that I had forgotten to pick up my cross and chain. I was a bit cross with myself for forgetting it, but I wasn’t worried because I knew it would be safe. The girls were staying for another day so I guessed they would bring it home for me when they came. There were no mobile phones in those days so I couldn’t call them!
The next day was Sunday and the girls were sharing the driving home after a lovely weekend. They had found my cross and chain and remembered to pop it on the dashboard before they set off. They were very happy driving along, listening to their music and singing. They reached a sharp bend in the road just as another driver was speeding along. He misjudged the corner and crashed right into the little mini. The car was dreadfully smashed up and my 3 precious girls were taken off to hospital in ambulances.
The policeman who came to the crash shook his head sadly thinking the girls would be badly hurt. But at the hospital they were absolutely fine, just a few bruises and a bit shocked. The girls did not want to tell me about the crash as they knew I would be really worried and upset, so they phoned their brother to come and collect them. He got into his car and drove along the same country roads that his sisters had travelled. When he reached the bend in the road he saw the mini being towed onto a breakdown lorry. He got out to watch and was shocked to see the damage to the car. Just then he noticed something glinting in the road. It was my cross and chain. He picked it up and put it in his pocket, then drove on to the hospital to pick up his sisters and bring them home.
When I saw them and heard the whole story I knew that my dad and the angels had been watching over my girls as they travelled in their car that day. They protected them from harm. That is why I always wear my cross and chain. It reminds me how blessed I am.
One day I will give my cross and chain to her, my angel.
This post is inspired by the February theme of ‘Pilgrimage’ on Carpe Diem
I journey into my soul
A Prayerful Pilgrim
I have written about my idea of pilgrimage before and have posted links to these posts so you can read them again if you wish. I am aware that a number of my readers have no faith or a different faith from myself. I respect that and hope you will read with an open heart and mind, and enjoy the photographs
I am moved and inspired by haiku heights word prompt this week, which is ‘Pain’.
On Saturday my daughter went through the pain of childbirth and produced a wonderful son, Stanley Jack. That pain was worth going through.
A cold winter’s day
An arrow of agony
A baby is born
On Sunday my husband bent down to pick up a basket of logs for the stove and his back gave way. That pain was definitely not worth going through! By Thursday my husband’s pain was so bad he was kept in hospital where he still is. Although he is very brave it must be a pain to have so many pills, injections, procedures and tests when he is already on dialysis 3 times a week and chemotherapy alternate days for an existing condition! He has a very high pain threshold but this back has beaten even him.
Advancing in age
Every movement is torture
On Monday I saw a homeless person sitting in a doorway in the bitter cold and wet. I feel for him in his physical discomfort but also in the pain of alienation from the community and rejection by society that he must feel.
Hopeless and homeless
Shivering in the shadows
Harbouring his hurts
Looking round the town decorated for Christmas, I am struck by the contrast between the glitzy shop windows, the festive decorations, the singing of the choirs in the streets ~ and the horror of homeless young people, male and female, huddled in doorways.
Two thousand years on
Young mums still search for shelter
Crisis at Christmas
On Tuesday I was reminded of a child I once took to Lourdes. She was 10 years old and gravely ill. She needed a heart and lung transplant, which she eventually received. sadly she died before the year was out and her funeral took place on Christmas Eve. I will never forget her bravery. She wrote her own funeral mass sheet and drew pictures of rabbits on it. She chose the music from Watership Down to be played at the service.
When treatment has failed
And the torment is over
Bright eyes close in pain.
Today sitting at home alone I am reflecting on the pain of having family scattered all over the world. But how lucky I am to have email, facebook, mobile phone and text messaging. My family are instantly updated on my husband’s condition and they instantly respond with supportive calls and texts.
Tender the ties that
bind families together
Hearts bleed when they break
It was not so easy to stay in touch in the 19th century. I have been researching my family tree and discovered a tragic tale about my great grandfather, William Patrick Roche, who suffered from the pain of losing his birth family for the whole of his life. According to an old letter written by his granddaughter, my Aunty Nancy, William was born in Ireland in County Cork in 1840. His mother and father had 8 children, but after the last baby his mother died. The Irish Potato Famine was in full swing so William’s father could not manage all of the children on his own so he remarried. His new wife did not get on with William. So a sea captain friend was paid 40 guinees to take William Patrick to sea and train him. William was 12 years old. The rest of the family went on one of the ‘Famine Ships’ which sailed from Cobh to America.
Bound for a new life
But crammed into coffin ships
No comfort nor hope.
I searched the records at the National Archives in London and traced the original document which William’s father, James Roche signed. The date was 2 February 1855. The ship was HMS Conway and it was a Royal Navy flagship. The commanding officer was John Fulford. William’s birthdate was given as 17 March 1839! Whether this was a true birthdate to make him look old enough, and because it was St Patrick’s Day, I don’t know but it makes him 16 when he signed up not 12 as the family history has him! He was contracted as “Boy 2nd Class” to serve in the Royal navy for 10 years from his 18th birthday plus the time before he was 18 so that means 12 years, or up to 1867. I believe I have traced him on the 1861 census serving on a ship called “Victor Emmanuel” in the Meditterranean. I have not managed to trace him on the 1871 census so it may be that he was on a merchant vessel, sailing overseas on tea clippers at this time.
After William went to sea in 1855 he never saw his family again because their father and new wife emigrated to USA with the other children.
Fleeing the famine
Fragmented Families sailed
To an Isle of Tears
William eventually became 1st mate on Tea Clippers that sailed between China and UK. One day he sailed into Glasgow and decided to take a trip to the highlands of Scotland. Near Inverness he saw a young girl sitting on a farm gate. her hair was so long she could sit on it. He thought she was beautiful and decided there and then that he would come back when she was older and marry her. Jessie Miller (born Munro) was her name. Her mother had died when she was 9 years old so she and her sister had gone to live with an aunt who had a farm for them to work on. 3 years later William Patrick came back for Jessie and they married and went to live in Sunderland. He became an optician and Jessie had 8 children. One of them was Lizzie Roche who was my grandmother. Sadly Jessie died in 1907 when she was just 50. William went on to reach the age off 76 dying in the Newcastle Royal Infirmary in 1916. He often travelled to Dublin to try and trace where his family had gone. He also put adverts in American newspapers. But he never did find any of them again. Today with the internet I am hoping to continue the search on his behalf.
“O the tender ties
Close twisted with the fibres of the heart,
Which broken break them, and drain off the soul
Of human joy; and make it pain to live.”