It all started with a walk after the first snow. A tall towering beech tree was like a rushing waterfall. Melting snow rushing down the trunk. It was alive. I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
The Circle of Life
Enter the oak tree by the lake. Look at the green circle of melting snow which surrounds it. I call this the circle of life. Life from the oak tree flows in a circle and gains momentum with everything it touches. We are all connected and our circles intertwine.
Last night I received a delightful note from Daniel Webb. Danny is a really bright child simply beaming with energy and drive. All of 9 years old, he dressed up in his finest and presented us his tidied room on arrival to his home at Christmas. There was a gift on the bedstand and a Christmas ornament he’d just made. There are signs all over his bedroom walls with Daniel ‘isms’. ‘Yes you can’ is widely displayed. With an engineer’s heart, tape is one of his prized possessions. To make it is better. He is one idea after another. A sign posted on his desk notes his business on advice and insurance. He is a budding star and a bright light. Having recently seen a deck of cards full of English insults, I couldn’t resist picking it up and sending it to him. The thank you note received last night had me in hysterics. I’m sure he will dazzle everyone around him who will be wondering what hit them when he launches his new tools.
On an earlier visit Daniel was reciting poetry that he had written, memorised of course, and enjoying every second of his limelight. What is most remarkable is his ability to fit in with adults as well as his twin sister, older sister and friends. I see plenty of children in our tiny village who totally clam up and walk away rather than engaging in something or someone that would test them and encourage them to go beyond the tried, true and comfortable. Danny is a gift and you know what, there are more Danny’s and gifts out there of all ages.
The foundations on which many of us have built our lives are being shaken. How we respond to this shaking, will determine the future of not only our lives but the lives of everyone in the world around us. There are opportunities in this gloom. In all the strangulating cut backs, we must keep our vision, figure out what is most important, and move forward. Follow the lights and don’t look back.
The animals continue their quiet take over of our realm, though their boldness grows daily. Under cover of the long grasses in the meadow leading down to the lake, an insurgency of alarming proportions is under way. In the mild winters, the rabbits no longer need to burrow, so their young are streetwise from the start. They hang about chewing weed with flagrant disregard of farmer or passing tourist. To the north of the fileds, where a prime heap of muck was gradually worked to the ground last year, the grass is shorter, but lush and fat. This is quality dope to these teenage long ears. You might think it would be enough to satisfy their cravings for sensation, but not a bit of it. They have set their sights on the herb garden to the south. This is the ˜hard stuff” of the plant world, so it is well guarded with stone walls and wire fencing across the old sheep gate. The rabbits can break through defences of this sort on their own, so they’ve enlisted help. From the north a clear and determined track has appeared through the waving grass of the meadow. The wooden sills and posts of the gate are under attack from that JCB of earth movers, the badger. Old Brock has no business of his own down here, so he evidently been persuaded by these layabouts to show the gang what he’s capable of. It’s most unfortunate.
Meanwhile, after months of harassment from mother swallow, and her rather embarrassed husband (who, after all, did choose to build his nest just inches from the lintel of our door and then scream at us every time we went in or out), the young have fledged. Having tiptoed in and out for so long, and been dive bombed by a screeching mum, it’s a relief to go by without getting an earful, albeit that we now have to wade knee deep through guano. The kids do come back to the nest in the evening or during the persistent downpours of this lamentable summer, but we feel sorry for them. They now seem to be the ones getting the earful. I fear they’ll go the way of the rabbits and become bolshy. Come September mum will be trying to get them lined up for that old tradition – family Chritmas in Morocco. But they’ll be unimpressed with the thought of 3,000 miles of sweating it out trying to work out where they are by sun and stars – all that trigonometry and parental chiding – and nothing but foreign bugs and dust storms at the end of it. They’rere clearly already discussing the benefits of Sat Nav, GPS and i-phones with the in-crowd at the north end. Maybe our Christmas card will have a swallow on it this year!
What do you do when it has rained for days with no sign of stopping? I was on the phone with a friend from across the water when I heard a bleating sheep pass my window. Not so unusual for the Lakes BUT not in front of my window. I looked out and there was a whole herd running down the road. Sally, our Estate Manager, quickly reined them into a holding bay. HELP! They were eating the trees and literally taking whole cleavers andÂ sucking them down. I raced downstairs. A local farmer just happened to drive by. We walked them back to their field in the pouring rain – me with a stick looking stern at the back, Sally bravely opening the gate, and Bill leading the gang in the car. Three fields down there was a two meter gash in the wall. A couple of pallets were found to fill in the gaps…. Onto the real story – Crag Head, part of the Brantwood Estate, is total heaven. The path is a feast for the eyes – every colour of green sparkling in the wet cloud. The terraced landscape and earthen rock paths (it is solid rock beneath) make each step a treat. The higher one goes, the more varied the landscape. The closer to Crag Head the more open the moorland. Right now the bog asphodel is bright yellow, there are a few pink flowers on the heather, the orchids are tall and bold in their pale purple splendour and the juniper trees look wild in the wind. The glacial erratic at the top reveals a 360 view of all the mountains surrounding.Â Now I know why Ruskin said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather only different kinds of good weather.” Brantwood, Coniston, 7 July 2007