Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Life and Death in the Countryside

On many warm, sunny mornings I have cycled out of Ripon, along four miles of country lanes and re-engaged with the countryside in a way I'd almost forgotten: the green fields of May turn slowly to gold as wheat and barley ripen, and as I write, are harvested. Cockerels spill onto the road at Nunwick, a pair of gunmetal crows seem to have accustomed themselves to my passing and a flock of white doves scattering at my approach have not. I have watched swallows arrive, produce and nurture their young and now gather in preparation for their miraculous journey south. The garden has filled our senses with colour, scent and the constant sound of bees and is now going over; both house and garden are open for the last time this weekend and as the season draws to a close, Walter, who lives in a courtyard cottage opposite my studio, lost his wife Jacqueline. She was 38.

Alice prepares the funeral flowers
A sombreness is draped over all of us and yet at the same time, life goes on - the garden goes into its Autumn colours but the bees, butterflies and birds seem almost busier than ever in their haste to stock up for the coming winter.

"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt".

William Allingham