Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The first signs...and the hill in January

Last week, the snow was thick on the ground...



Ice was a real problem when walking or driving, and Alice was a snow dog....



This week, it's all change! The temperatures are mild and, this morning, the sun was actually warm! So lovely to be out and making the most of it...



We started out in the woods...Alice hates mud, so she picked her way carefully around the edges of the path...



While I squelched right through the middle in my wellies.....



The woods were so beautiful...although the wind was whipping through the trees and chilling the shade...






And then, suddenly, I began to see little emerald green shoots everywhere, poking up through the carpet of leaves...



The beginning of the carpet of bluebells which will be here in a few months time...we stood and contemplated that delicious thought for a few moments...



Before continuing on through the gate and onto the hill...
Life was all around here too, of course...



These are wild juniper berries...soon I'll try and remember to bring some sturdy gloves so that I can brave the thorns and pick some...so good in anything pork- related, or crushed in a gin & tonic...
I've decided that my monthly blog project this year will be to photograph the view from the top of the hill from the same point each time...so here's January!






It will be wonderful to see that huge ploughed field turn from brown to green to gold to brown...and the trees too!
We got home to the churchyard and I remembered that I wanted to show you these beauties as well..



Already fully out and spreading around the foot of the laburnum like stars...



And further on, the joyful aconites...



With their little green ruffs framing them perfectly, I always think they look as though they're smiling! Anyway, their summery colour adds a hopefulness to the gloom of winter...



And with the daffodils pushing their way through the cold earth once more, the spring doesn't feel so very far away....

Hoping that you are seeing green shoots wherever you are this week..real or metaphorical! Xo

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Reflection & remembrance...




A few weeks ago, in the freezing, dry cold of a Polish December day, I made a trip that I have been promising myself all my conscious life...you will probably recognise the now- familiar horrific image above...the entrance to the infamous factory of death that is Auschwitz 2 at Birkenau. Now a permanent memorial to those hundreds of thousands for whom this was the last view of the outside world.
It is a place that I am so pleased I visited. It is also a place that I would never, ever visit again.
I already knew a lot about the Holocaust before this visit...of course, there were many, many other death camps and places of cruelty & suffering created by the Nazis...but Auschwitz-Birkenau seems to crystallise so much of it, and it is a place to absorb & try to process the full horrors of what was planned and accomplished by this evil. Despite knowing so much, I was overwhelmed by the experience...it is impossible, perhaps unnecessary to describe it fully.
I didn't take many photographs...just a few outside. It seemed disrespectful and, once again, unnecessary. I will carry what I saw in my heart forever. Walking in absolute silence through a gas chamber is a transforming experience. I can say nothing except that seeing it all in beautiful warmth & sunshine instead of the bitter -12c temperature would have made not a jot of difference...it is a dark, dark place...a place of dread and unimaginable suffering. But I believe that it's something that everyone who is able should experience. The sheer scale of the misery that mankind is capable of inflicting must never be forgotten or downplayed. And it has made me even more grateful for the life I have, and more determined to use every gift I was born with & live in the very best way I can. It feels as though, in this way, I am doing a tiny bit to honour those who died and didn't have that chance.
On this Holocaust Memorial Day...which is also my beloved Mozart's birthday, and so another wonderful reason to celebrate life...I am remembering that terrible place, and honouring the memories of all who died in the dark vortex that lay at the heart of WW2.
Wishing you a peaceful and love-filled weekend xx