Thursday, 6 January 2011
Yesterday, after lunch, the sun really shone; not a weak, watery substitute for the real thing but a good bright orb in the sky. And what a difference it made. Suddenly, as you will see from the photograph, there was colour again.
The farmer and I went walkabout with Tess. The hazel catkins were beginning to show, as were the alder catkins. I am determined not to photograph them until they begin to break into colour though. But fat sycamore buds showed up well in the sunlight, so I did photograph them for you. What a welcome sight.
We walked round the perimeter of our land and then cut across a field to look at a sheep which lay in an awkward position, so that we thought it might be dead (sheep do tend to die suddenly, without warning). Of course, as we approached it, it got up and ran off.
But walking back across the field we came to a little mound with a little 'moat' around it. The farmer stopped and pointed it out to me (I would have walked past it without noticing it, it was not very obvious). He told me that there used to be a tree on the mound and in the days when there were horses on the farm, the horses used the tree as a scratching post, thus making the 'moat' with their front feet. Even though the tree died they left it there for the horses, but when the last horse was replaced by a 'fergie' (about 1947 I think) they felled the tree for firewood.
But the little mound has stayed and will do so forever unless the field is ploughed at some point. But as it is a pasture rather than a meadow that is not likely to happen any time soon. But future generations will never know how the mound was formed will they?
So many little bumps and dips pepper our fields - the rig and furrow system still remains visible as do the medieval terraces and lynchets. And so many treasures lie undiscovered in the ground beneath our feet. The little watch fob in the photograph was discovered by my brother-in-law, using a metal detector, in one of our fields. The stone is a carnelian and the mount is silver, hallmarked 1832 - once somebody's treasure. We can speculate that it belonged to the farmer who owned the field, but we shall never really know who lost it and when. Interestingly, the field where it was found is called Peacock's field - was the man who lost the fob called Peacock or does the name go back further than that?
All these little mysteries make life so interesting. I read this morning an article in the Times by Matthew Parris about visiting the 13th century homes of the Pueblo Indians in Mesa Verde National Park. The farmer and I visited them some ten
years or so ago. So exciting to climb the little ladders and stand where those earlier men stood. But we do it every day here in our fields, or when we climb ancient stairs worn away by time, or when we stand in ancient buildings, or indeed when we cross the road. For the earth stays as it is - it is only we humans, and animals too of course, who come and go.
Today's aros: An old photograph, an old object, catches a moment in time.