It’s Maundy Thursday
today and if life were normal I would be going to church this evening for one
of my favourite services of the year. The week would have begun with the joyful
celebration of Palm Sunday, but also the reading of the Passion narrative in
preparation for the week to come. As it happens DH and I have spent the last
two Easters in the far north of Scotland, so this would have been the first
time for a while that I had celebrated Holy Week with my friends in Wales.
There would have
been small, quiet services on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening and
this evening the celebration of a very special communion service followed by a silent vigil. Tomorrow there will be the deeply reflective commemoration of the
Crucifixion followed by the hiatus that is Easter Eve and then the glory of Easter
All of these are
meant to be celebrated in company – Christians coming together to be part of
the most important week of the Christian year and before this week I could
never have imagined how much I would miss being part of it all. I feel rootless
and cast adrift, thrown back on my own resources and not liking the experience
and what it tells me of my own inadequacies.
As it is I am
taking enormous comfort and sustenance from the many blogs I follow which are
marking the passage of Holy Week with art, music and very thoughtful meditations
and I’d like to say a big thank-you to all of them. I shall never
take the company of others for granted again.
The worst of the
snow stopped on Saturday afternoon and our world looked like this.
Just baby drifts, but enough to stop the car
Since then the north-easterly
wind has been blowing strongly and unceasingly and our world now looks like
That's the outside world up there
the wind drops or the surrounding fields are scoured clear of snow, I reckon they’re just
going to keep on growing……
The drift that ate the orchard field
This will be a
very quiet Holy Week for me and, unless the weather changes unexpectedly fast, the first time I haven’t been to
church on Good Friday and Easter Day in 38 years. But DH and I have food and power and each other and that will be enough.
A year ago today
the British Isles were basking in unusually warm spring sunshine and in many
places it was warmer than the Mediterranean coast. Today much of the country is
blanketed yet again in snow or swamped with rain, with much more still to come,
and spring is just a word, not a reality. Though we have got off much more lightly than
many places so far, the world outside my window is still white and snow is
But this isn’t
just another post bemoaning the dreadful weather and the way it interferes with
my little life. It’s late March and throughout Wales hill farmers are in the
middle of lambing, which is normally timed for the beginning of spring to give
the newborn lambs the best chance of survival. Instead the lambs and their
mothers are struggling with snow or, further south, with driving rain, and
everywhere it is still much too cold for animals to thrive.
This is also
dairy country, but there is no possibility of the cows being let out into the fields,
not only because of the snow, but because it has been so cold for so long that
the grass hasn’t yet started to grow again and the fields are almost
waterlogged in any case. So the cattle remain in their barns and the farmers
continue to have to feed them with the remains of last summer’s silage, or else
expensive bought-in food.
the crop-growing areas of the country, autumn-sown crops are water-logged, if
not actually under water, and the ground is far too wet and cold for spring
ploughing and sowing. After a year of exceptionally bad weather the situation for many farmers is becoming desperate.
We take it for
granted that when we need food we can go to the shops and find everything we
need, at a price we can afford to pay. As we fill our trolleys this weekend,
let’s spare a thought for the farmers and their problems and be grateful that they don’t
just give up on what must often seem like a very unequal struggle. Postscript HERE and HERE are two news items from the BBC website, showing the devastating impact the deep snow and continuing cold are having on livestock and crop farmers around the country.
….and doesn't it make a difference! The tightly-furled daffodil buds from the posies I was given at church on Mothering Sunday have finally unfolded their petals and yesterday the evening sun made them glow in their full glory. The sun may have vanished again today, but the daffodils are still there, brightening not only the kitchen but my spirits.
Another thing which gave me a huge lift over the weekend was the news that DD shared with us on Saturday. As I mentioned in one of my earliest posts, about 4 years ago, at the grand old age of 38, she began to learn the saxophone. How she finds time to practice in her exceptionally busy life I do not know, but find time she does and to such good effect that she has just passed her Grade 6 exam in classical saxophone with distinction, achieving the very rare accolade of full marks in one of her pieces!
This news made not only my day but my week, so this clip is for her, with my love.
I can’t be the only blogger around who sometimes feels that all she has to write about is yet another thing going wrong. In my case it’s been a fortnight I would much rather forget than dwell upon, if that didn't mean that I would otherwise disappear from the blogosphere.
First it was the ongoing saga of the septic tank, which was almost immediately compounded on Monday by our central heating going wrong in the coldest March weather here for 30 years. On Tuesday my brother-in-law generously gave up much of his day helping DH to track down what the problem was, while my youngest sister and I sat in the only warm place in the house, the sunny conservatory, and put the world to rights.
The very next morning I had a extremely nasty shock when I woke up to discover that I’d completely lost the hearing in my left ear overnight! Some rapid googling and an urgent visit to the doctor taught me that sudden hearing loss is more common that I would ever have expected and having ruled out some worse possibilities, the doctor prescribed ear-drops for what he hopes is an otherwise symptomless infection. Two days on I’m starting to be able to hear some loud sounds very faintly with that ear, but it’s still like listening to the world in mono rather than stereo. Most odd…..
Finally, to put, as my Lancashire grandmother would have said, the tin lid on the week from hell, I opened Google Reader yesterday to find the terse message from the Google power-that-be that in July they are going to retire what has become for me one of my essential blogging tools. It’s only a few weeks since I was gently gloating about the simplicity and reliability of Google Reader in comparison with the flaky WordPress Reader other bloggers were bewailing and now Google is planning to pull the plug on it, presumably because they haven’t found a way to milk it for every cent they can get. There are alternatives out there and I’m sure I’ll be able to find one which does the job just as well, but I was perfectly happy with the reader I had. Sigh…..
When things conspire against us, it’s lovely to be able to escape into a world beyond the petty annoyances of everyday life and last Sunday afternoon that’s exactly what I did. As nature froze outside the living-room window, I curled up on the settee with my knitting and lost myself in one of my all-time favourite films, that childhood classic The Wizard Of Oz. Sadly none of us can stay in that world over the rainbow, but a couple of hours of music, laughter and innocent enjoyment make our own world seem so much brighter. Now to see whether an oil-can will sort out my stiff knee. J
Anyone who watches TV in Britain can hardly miss the plethora of property programmes extolling the pleasures of escaping the pressures of the city and moving to live in the country. What they somehow fail to mention are the inevitable downsides of living in remote places, far from the services taken for granted in more populated areas.
I’ve yet to notice anyone talking about what to do when your well runs dry or your broadband slows to a trickle and, more pertinently for us at the moment, what to do when you discover to your horror that the drain to your septic tank is blocked and there’s no Dynarod service just round the corner! Yes, there are firms who will come and help you out – at a price - but they are miles away and often not available when you really need them.
All this explains why DH and I, instead of taking advantage of this week’s lovely spring-like weather to work in the garden, have been forced to don our wellies and oldest clothes and sally forth into the field behind the house armed with picks, shovels and drain-rods to do battle with a recalcitrant drain.
After much prodding and cursing we’ve located the problem and tomorrow, with the help of our farmer neighbour and his digger, we will hopefully solve it, but in the meantime I’m aching from head to toe with the unaccustomed hard labour and realising that I really am not as young as I was.
Now I’m off to put my feet up and relax with my knitting (this time birthday socks for DD) leaving you to enjoy one of my very favourite comic sketches. If only DH and I had had the Two Ronnies to help us, we’d have found the problem in a trice. J