Falling into the long goodnight…..



When she reached the edge of the forest, she paused. It was important to always allow her eyes to become accustomed to the darkness before entering. The forest was very familiar to her, after all, it was the source of many of the healing plants that she used. Just the same, she was aware that many creatures, seen and unseen, lurked in the forest and misfortune could befall the unwary. Yet the forest was the place she returned to again and again; it was the place where she could go about her tasks, unhurried, unheeded. Few other folk chose to go there, and when they did, she knew about it instantly, so attuned to the trees was she.

Ah…those trees… She gave a sigh, knowing that this was to be her last journey into the forest, and one by one, she visited each tree and said her goodbyes. From some, she took a small bundle of leaves and placed these in her basket. The basket she herself wove many years before, using the young supple wood from the tree deep in the forest, the tree most believed no longer existed. The basket had served her well. Anything placed in that basket retained it’s vitality until she was able to process it as tradition willed. The leaves being gathered today had a special purpose, and her heart was heavy.

Finally it was time to leave the forest and to slowly make her way back to the village. Despite her understanding of the cycle of life, despite her training, despite her beliefs, she could not stop the tears from rolling down her face, as she left the place most precious to her.

It was with a final last effort that she reached her door, and entered. Carefully she placed the basket with it’s precious contents next to her bed, and laid herself down one final time. It was her time. She knew this, and accepted it. The times she lived in were difficult – it was not easy to go about her work when the other villagers were suspicious of what she did. The sideways glances, the mutterings…..yet when they were ill, who did they call? It was how it was, that’s all. Her sorrow lay in having no-one to pass her knowledge on to. No-one to carry on the traditions of healing, no-one to carry on the nurturing of the land itself. She had tried, oh how had she tried, to encourage other women to learn from her. But they all were too scared to be seen in that way, and while she could understand this, it still grieved her.

She had asked that when her time came, she be not buried with the others, but be placed back in the forest. The villagers were shocked at the idea, and she realised sadly it wouldn’t happen.

And now, on this day, her breath is drawing to a close, she is letting go, allowing the next cycle to proceed…….. Just as she slips away, a figure slides forward from the shadows and places the leaves across her face, just as she had wished. Ahh…..there will be someone to carry on after all….

(First published 2011/11/10)

Froth and bubble – let’s celebrate!

FrothOk, it’s not quite champagne 🙂  However, we can pretend it is 🙂  Why I hear you ask, what’s the reason for the celebration?

It’s six years since I did my first post on WordPress !

Over my life, I’ve kept diaries at various times, but not particularly consistently.  So for me to have kept this blog going for six years is rather amazing!  I’m sure it’s in no small part due to YOU, my wonderful readers!  So thank you all very much for your likes, comments, and views – you’ve no idea just how special you are to me.  ♥

This image of the kangaroo is available full file for download, enjoy the little aussie 🙂 Thank you 🙂

The little aussie

Reclaiming the hostess gift

I’m currently reading a cook book.  That’s a rather unusual subject matter for me, as I have a health-induced restricted array of foods I can consume, and have given up mostly on expecting cookbooks to cater for my situation.  As I was glancing at book titles in my local library though, this one leaped out at me – Love and Hunger, thoughts on the gift of food.  (Charlotte Wood 2012)
It’s an Australian book, and while the author is of a younger generation than mine, because she’s spent much time living in rural towns she speaks a similar language.
The book is a more than a collection of recipes, it’s a thoughtful book about the part food plays in our lives, and our attitudes towards it.  I also recommend popping over to her WordPress blog.

One of the chapters – Reclaiming the hostess gift – stirred me into writing this.  The Hostess Gift is  about not turning up to visit someone empty handed, but bearing a gift, preferably something cooked or grown by the giver.  A bottle of wine can be the exception to that.  After all, not many indulge in wine making.   Although there is the ginger beer….but that’s another story!Vegetables

“Turning up for dinner at someone’s house empty-handed would be as vulgar as arriving half-dressed.”

Thinking back to my childhood, where my father grew vegetables and fruit trees and kept chickens and my mother had a flower garden, and row upon row of jams and preserves, there was always something on hand to take when going visiting.   One visitor to our home I particularly remember for her wonderful cakes, especially her fruit and nut roll.  It was the days of people dropping something off on the doorstep too – sometimes it was easy to guess who the gift had come from, other times not, but it didn’t matter.  What did matter was that it was about sharing and caring.
I continued that tradition over the years.  Back in the days when I did a great deal of home baking, it may be a fruit cake, biscuits or even bread that I would take when visiting.  At various times it could be a harvest from my garden, be it vegetables or a posy of herbs.  Friends would arrive with something that spoke of their understanding of me, something that had been selected with thought. It would be received with delight and gratitude.  A rose
Yet, in recent times, I’ve noticed a distinct lack of this sharing and caring in action.  Perhaps it’s my changed circumstances, but I’m more inclined to believe it’s a symptom of the breakdown in community, where many have no contact with their neighbours, and no understanding of the joy of giving.  Is it because we’re too wealthy these days?  Is it because people are too busy to produce home made food?  Or are they not sufficiently confident of their skills to display to others outside the family?  Is it regarded as easier to meet up at a hotel/cafe/restaurant with friends, rather than entertain at home?

Is the ‘hostess gift’ in decline?  Perhaps your experience is that it’s alive and well.  Maybe its existence or not, is more about personal networks, or location.  What do you think?