Smoky marks form a cross on my forehead, and echo the crusted cross above the tiny church where I received them.
Tiny church – the smallest in England – rests among sheep on a green slope; an almost imperceptible stream at the field’s boundary, following a distant track to Ebbesbourne.
Enormous sums have been raised to preserve this small stone building, rebuild its roof, plaster its stonework, damp-proof floors, and place a ribbon of heaters around the cold walls.
Enshrining memories of times gone into mist, ever a small community edging along a narrow valley, rural and distant.
..and the ashes link us: a light scatter of history … touches and passes, and a smudge remains to mark the skin.
Snow falling like slow rain… plump pigeons perched in the tall branches of empty trees … and all the time, Christmas creeping closer with a rustle of paper and shimmering tinsel.
It could be a cold old journey even to Sussex, and the chance of a greater snowfall before then: holding on to a frozen chicken ‘just in case’.
Heathrow – having imported 2 snow-ploughs from Zurich at untold expense – cannot move any passenger aircraft away from their parking bays, because the wheels have frozen, and the ice-clearing machinery cannot deal with that.
So quantities of people, despite all the advice on tv, papers, radio, set off for their Far-Eastern holidays – and find the motorways are solid and unmoving, with jack-knifed lorries and stuck cars; that there are long, stationery queues leading to the airport carparks; and that they then sit for hours on hard seats, waiting for news of another delayed flight.
Then they become cross with everyone in authority. The airline staff are abused; the airport authority is blamed for not causing aircraft to take off – even in freezing fog, and blizard conditions – and the government is blamed for not being prepared for so severe a winter. Ummm… anyone else to blame? like the people who leave home in these conditions, when they’ve been asked not to travel unless it is strictly necessary?
‘First Sight’ by Philip Larkin
Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.
As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth’s immeasureable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow. Philip Larkin
Posted in Poetry
Tagged lambs, life, love, snow
snow outside, stripes indoors – on computer screen, which looks like a spaced-out rainbow. lively, but difficult to read through. Hoping for new graphics card – this is a known fault, it seems, and Apple repairs it.
Great relief, having consulted various expert friends, who sighed ‘hardwear’ and ‘expensive’. not words you want to hear.
Not even at Christmas – when Father Christmas’ hearing might not be that acute.
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