I am awoken by the cock crowing. It’s the best sort of alarm I feel. It stirs memories of distant childhood dreams, those of having colourful hens of all shapes and sizes. Feeding them in an orchard of fruit trees, watching them scratch amongst the wild flowers under the blossom. Even before I have opened my eyes my soul is lifted to a happy place.
one of our handsome boys
Mornings are still dark when the cock crows. Today darker than pitch as a thick blanket of cloud covers every inch of sky. It sits above us all day adding to the heavy stillness that weights the air.
It’s cold, no wind but bone chilling. Cold air into warm nostrils, making the tip of my nose feel dewy and damp. I pull my woollen scarf snug around my neck. And yet there is the tiniest hint of change, of a new season just around the corner.
From my kitchen window red, pink and white chamelia flowers are sprinkled over their bottle-green bushes. The smell of fresh cut grass and hedge trimmings drifts on the air. Graham is busy trimming the hedges around the farm, the pittisporum is evergreen so we never really lose the greenery through the winter months, but the little sycamore tree outside our backdoor is different, naked and lythe.
It’s a very special tree, planted by a lady called Clemmie who lived next to the farmhouse from 1868 to 1953 in a thatched roofed cottage. She planted it in memory of her family that had all died through illness or drowning. Each time I look at the tree I remember Clemmie and the harsh but loved life she had on Bryher.
Clemmies sycamore tree. Behind are the stone ruins of her cottage
The winter stillness feels almost oppressive, ominous. It’s as if a great storm monster has sucked all the wind and wildness back into its self. It lurks now, somewhere out at sea with all this gathered up energy preparing to hurl it back at us. Soon if the weather forecast is correct.
I swim at Great Par where the large arching bay of water holds barely a ripple. A hush of silence the only sound.
The water is cold, now about 7°, but luscious as my limbs move freely in its glassy depths. I can not understand how water can look so green and so clear at the same moment. Today it is so clear that as I peer down from the surface I can pick out individual grains of sand. Even the seabed is still, nothing dares to move, to break this descended hush. Out to the buoy and back, I try to create as little movement and sound as possible. My few moments of total peace before the children return from school.