Archive for Country life

Postaday2011: Through the window

A few years ago now I lived in a small farm village, around 20 or so houses and on the edge of the Downs. Above us was a nature reserve and biggest natural yew forest in Europe. This was the best time of my entire life and every day was like getting up in the morning and knowing you are on holiday. I am not saying life was easy but every time I looked out of the window, day or night, life reminded me that nothing could ever compare to what mother nature has given us.

I have looked through the window on summer nights and seen the moon so big and red as she rose over the hill above our house that everything was stained pink. The harvest moon was radiant in her finest gown, as she rose up into the sky she changed from red, to pink to yellow and got smaller and smaller. Yet at her highest her silver light lit the lanes like daylight and bathed me in that comfort that only the moon can.

On sleepless hot summer nights I slept with the window open and the sounds of the countryside slipped over the sill and whispered of a life beyond what I had, a freedom, a dangerous life and one where I was not welcome apart from to listen to its whisperings.

Early dusk heard the peacock as he called hauntingly across the valley, in the undergrowth a rustling and snuffling announced the arrival of the hedgehog looking for food. Above it all was the chorus of evensong as the birds sang their hearts out in praise of the ending day. As their throats relaxed and became silent, the owls hooted and screeched from the surrounding woods. Barn owls, tawny owls, screech owls, little owls, creatures of the night that hunted silently, listening for the tiny rustles that indicated the presence of mice and voles. In the fields the sheep and cattle grew more silent with just gentle and calm lowing and bleating as the night drew on. If I listened and stayed still, the leathery wings of pipistrelle bats and long-eared bats flapped around me and their small high-pitched squeaks, barely audible, echoed through the silent night sky.

The night music lulled me into a comfortable sleep and the moon shone, silver across my pillow, caressing me with her eerie light. These were the sounds I heard every night as I drifted to sleep and those that I remember today on sleepless nights.

Last night I opened my window as dusk fell and listened. A solitary blackbird sang and was then echoed by another somewhere in the distance, they then fell silent. Cars whizzed past my window until eventually they too became silent. In the summer the blackbird sings his note longer and later; against the darkening sky I might see a small bat but I can no longer hear the wings beating or their high pitched calls against the distant hum of the traffic.

I woke at 3.47 unable to sleep this morning and immediately I knew why. There was a strange sound outside my window, like a cat barking. I opened it wide to see what it was and a large male fox stood opposite our house making its rasping bark. I clapped my hands to frighten it away and it stopped and looked at me. Undeterred it walked across the road and stood beneath my window looking up at me. I walked around the car outside our house and sprayed before coming back to look at me. I spoke to it. ‘I am watching you’ I whispered. The fox stood still and watched me back.

Somewhere in the distance another fox barked and my one turned to listen, looked back at me and walked away round the corner. The night was silent again until the blackbird began her song just before dawn.

How different the sounds of the town are from the countryside, how lonely. Along with my sleep, the predictability was broken only by the fox, and the distant sound of a siren. How I yearn again for the sounds of the countryside, those sounds that are so noisy and disturb the sleep of visitors, yet are my comfort and solace. I welcomed the fox, but one urban fox, brave and confronting, does not substitute a whole nightime cacophony of night creature  noises of the countryside.

I sleep each night in the town, winter and summer alike, with my window open, hoping for something that will transport me back to when my bed was surrounded by the music of the night serenading me through the open window. I weep silently for what can never be again yet, I never stop dreaming.

 

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Postaday2011: A Country Life.

Before I begin this blog I must have a moan. I spend ages sorting my photos and placing them carefully next to the text then when it is published they are all over the place and the words no longer match the pictures. Ah well, methinks I am doing something wrong. I have tried re-arranging the pictures and resizing them but it looks worse. I think I shall leave well alone.

Meanwhile, I have written before about country living. How much I miss it following moving back into town but, I have some wonderful memories of an idyllic life. Ok it is very different to the town, the rules are soo different, I mean two of my children worked in a pub, washing up and preparing salads from the age of twelve for their pocket-money. The boys would go out beating for the pheasant shoot, they had air rifles and so much more freedom than there is in the town.  It was harder in as much as there was no central heating in some of the cottages we lived, the weather dictated whether the phones or electricity worked  and buses were only every two hours. It was worth it though, some of  the wonderful memories have been captured on film and while looking for pictures yesterday, I found one or two to share.

We lived in working farm villages and Suzi loved the cows, so much so that she would spend as much time as she could in the barns with the babies. When she wasn’t on the farm she bred hamsters and rabbits.  This picture is just one of many with Suzi with her hand in a calf’s mouth.   

Quite often the children would find something to amuse themselves. When builders came and left a pile of bricks in a lean-to overnight, they came back next day to … a pyramid!   We have no idea what they thought about it but the kids found it very amusing.  If they were up at the farm, there was always a cart and a friend to lend a hand.                                                                    

 

 

 We were surrounded by farmland and in summer the cows would be let in the adjoining field. Our chickens were and really curious but I wonder if they knew they were being watched.                    When we were fairly new to rural life stupidly we planted runner beans next to the fence not realising the cows would let in the field later on.. Yes, you guessed, they stripped all the plants as far as their long tongues would reach. A definite learning curve there. The winters were cold, the valley had its own little biosphere and one winter we had a leaking pipe. The resulting icicles outside the back door were spectacular this particular year.

Finally, this last picture of the field next to the house showed me that there is not always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We searched where this rainbow ended in the field to no avail but it was still beautiful to think that we were lucky enough to actually experience standing beneath the glorious colours at the rainbow’s end.                                                                                            

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