Dec 15 2013

Endings and New Beginnings

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”. T.S. Elliot.

The seasons rotate relentlessly, round we go and here we are again. Another year ends; a new year waits in the wings. Endings and new beginnings; the cycle continues. Last winter dragged its feet into a wet and freezing spring. Slowly a glowing summer crept up on us bathing the valley in sunshine at last. Autumn followed, gentle and mild, leading us round once more into winter.

Now naked trees swirl eerily in a wintery mist, days are short. We catch our breath in the freezing early morning air, in the half light of dawn, as we trudge up to the yard across fields white with frost. Christmas approaches oblivious to the tragedies and triumphs of the past year.

Things come to an end regardless of whether we are ready or not. Sometimes the end is abrupt sometimes gentle. Sometimes we’re left in shock and grief struggling with sadness and pain. Sometimes we see the end approaching far away on the horizon and have time to plan. This year we have suffered both; two loved ones dying suddenly and violently and then an old acquaintance leaving us on the other side of the world.

Yet another shock awaited us. Stephen left us suddenly to return to his Kentish roots after twenty years working with us here at Bramble Torre. We miss his quiet reassuring presence, his gentle humour and extraordinary ability to anticipate exactly what needed doing ahead of time. His departure was very abrupt which made things so much worse: the inevitable conditions of selling ones house means there is no room for manoeuvre if you want to hang on to a keen purchaser. The buyer calls the tune. So it was with Stephan and ten days from exchange of contract he was gone. It felt like yet another bereavement.

Dear old Bunty finally left us too some three weeks ago. I miss the gentle little donkey but her end was peaceful and the last fifteen years of her life here so much better than what had gone before. The two other donkeys watched her passing. They paced about eeyoring loudly but seemed to settle as they saw her go to her resting place in Sunday Orchard to be with her erstwhile companions, Dandy and old Sweep. It’s strange just having two little donkeys after all these years.

But it was not all negative. Old friends married each other, babies were christened , birthdays celebrated. We spent a lazy week in the Scilly’s gazing at the ocean and walking in the autumn sun.

And so to new beginnings: a skip graces the yard now heralding a fresh start. Methodically we work our way through the great sheds removing rubbish accumulated over years and years. Oh how cathartic it is to see it go !

The pigs have gone too. Theirs was a short but happy life !

pigs in mud from Paul Vincent on Vimeo.

The rams have left the ewes, their job done. Now they stare wistfully at the Harem through the fence. The other day as I climbed the hill to the top barn I caught the girls gambolling like over grown lambs; great pregnant bundles of wool dancing round Quarry Field leaping in the air and spinning on the spot. Suddenly they spotted me laughing and stood quite still staring as if to say “qui moi”: so much for “the secret lives of sheep” I thought.

George comes on Monday mornings now. He speaks to the donkeys in Romanian, the sheep too, as, smiling quietly, he brings them gently down the hill to the farmyard.

Life changes, life goes on, lambing will begin soon, chicks will hatch; new life waiting in the wings! The cycle continues, soon it will be spring.

Happy Christmas once more.

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