The Dove Lane Robin ….

Often when I am out walking I’m accompanied by a friendly robin. He may not always be apparent but before long I can hear his familiar song and spot him perched in the branches of a nearby tree. Timid, but at the same time, reassuring, he always seems to be around to boost my pensive mood. Moreover, wherever I am, I’m convinced it’s the same robin I see.

The Dove Lane Robin

Through winter chills
And summer suns,
The soft refreshing rain,
The cheeky robin sings his song
Along our leafy lane.
He perches on the old wood fence
And in the apple tree,
There’s a reason why he’s always there;
He’s singing just for me.
My constant friend with his rosy chest
And gently plumped up feathers,
I spy him flying from his nest
In all the winds and weathers.
Where sweet honeysuckle winds around my door
With golden scented flowers,
I hear the robin sing nearby
As I pass the busy hours.

Blessings to you.

Robin

All things being equal…

This morning we took an early morning walk. The sun had just  come up but there was a  chill in the air, hinting that Autumn is waiting in the wings. August seems to be a month of variables somehow…we can still experience sweltering heat as summer keeps us in its grip, but we begin to draw our blinds a little earlier each evening, and we watch wistfully as swathes of golden fields are laid bare and the circular bales are stored ready for the winter after the wheat harvest. The completion of harvesting marks the end of the growing season and the social importance of this event will, before too long, make it the focus of seasonal celebrations such as Harvest Festival. It’s hard to think the summer could be drawing to an end before too long, but then there are always the comforts of late summer and early Autumn to look forward to, like blackberry picking and the smell of smoky bonfires in the air. Having said all that, a mini heatwave seems to have been predicted for next week so maybe we shouldn’t be replacing our flip-flops with wellies just yet!

As we wound our way round the village and walked back up the hill toward the woods behind Dove Lane, the path beneath our feet sparkled in the sun. Looking more closely, I could see there were hundreds of glass chips embedded in the tarmac. I had never noticed this before; maybe it was the direction of the sun or the time of day, but the effect was magical. The path glittered like something out of a fairy tale and I half expected to be transported to a different land. I thought about the beauty that surrounds us whoever we are and whatever our circumstances; rich or poor, we are all entitled to walk along a glittery pathway.

We are all created as equals. Sometimes it is easy to forget that. I certainly do. I think most of us, at some time in our lives, have looked up at someone we see as more famous, wealthy or seemingly more accomplished than ourselves and felt a little overshadowed. It is a habit that is hard to shake off. But we all have our skills, our own uniqueness that no-one can take away. We can all have a chance to shine and take a walk in the sunshine. There are so many unsung heroes we may pass along the way; those who carry on in the most dire circumstances, and still raise a smile.

I sat in the sunshine drinking tea with a friend today and we talked about life; how things sometime surprise us and turn out differently than expected. How sometimes it’s hard to take the rough with the smooth. How busy life can be at times. But would we really want to walk in anyone else’s shoes, however important they are?

I love this Malagasy proverb –

                                      ‘ A canoe does not know who is King, when it turns over, everyone gets wet.’

I hope you can walk the glittery path today.

                                                Blessings to you.

Harvest field

Would you have planned that?

I was reading about someone recently who had their diary planned out well into next year and even the year after. Blocks of time were set aside for trips, work events and family get-togethers. Many appointments were made, lunches and dinners scheduled and even visits to art gallery’s penciled in. They impressed upon the reader that they led an extremely busy lifestyle and it was the only way they could ensure their life ran smoothly. I was impressed; many times I have left things to the last minute and had to squeeze in appointments or last minute holidays with lots of phoning round and a bit of grovelling. Most times, though, I tend to get by. I know I’m probably not as busy as the person in the article, but it did set me thinking about plans, and I wonder how much life does actually go to plan.

I remember a little girl of about six or seven attending her art lesson at school. She loved art and painting and being creative. She had looked forward to her lesson for a full week; she had planned the picture she wanted to paint in her mind, and went excitedly in to the art room. She loved the smell of the paint and the rather chaotic aspect of the airy room with its old, paint splattered benches and the canvases stacked against the wall.This was a place where, for a while, she could get a bit messy and nobody minded. She put on her apron and collected together some paintbrushes and paint and placed them on the table in front of her. She laid down some paper and sketched an outline of the scene she wanted to paint. Lost in her own world she spent her time lovingly drawing the picture. Her teacher looked over her shoulder from time to time and made encouraging noises. She mixed her paints and carefully started painting. Her picture began to come alive and she was sure this was going to her best work yet. She looked at the pretty rural scene, its sunny blue sky and birds and butterflies, and was happy. The other classmates looked at her work with admiring glances. She couldn’t wait to pin her work on the wall. She pushed back her chair quickly, ready to take her picture to the teacher. In her haste her elbow knocked over her pot of dirty paint water, and, rooted to the spot, she watched as the water seeped across the paper in front of her. All the colours ran into one another, mixing together and fanning out in all directions until the picture beneath was indistinguishable. There was silence in the class. Tears welled up in the little girls eyes  and dropped on to the picture. But the little girl’s teacher smiled.  ‘You had painted a very pretty picture,’ she said, ‘but I think this one will be a lot more special. Look how the colours are flowing into one another and creating something beautiful to look at. There are shapes and swirls which will help the viewer to use their imagination when they look at it. It would grace any wall. So don’t be sad.’ As the painting dried it did indeed look beautiful and the little girl dried her tears. The teacher framed the picture and pinned it on the wall in the art room as an example of abstract art. At the end of term the little girl was awarded the art prize for her year.

The above is just one small example of how an unexpected occurrence can change our path or our viewpoint. At a young age, a lesson that teaches us to view a potential disaster with equanimity is a good thing, but so many times life throws us a curve ball and we flounder. – ‘But I had planned to do this or that,’ we say; ‘I don’t want to downsize because my finances dictate it!’or ‘I haven’t got time to be ill!’ How do we cope when life changes unexpectedly? It’s not easy. As the quote by Allen Saunders goes – ‘Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.’

It may be hard at times to adjust, and of course some life changes are much harder to cope with than others. I ask myself now if I would go back to the house I loved and left six years ago. It was traumatic at the time for various reasons, but now I have a different life; I live in different surroundings and have downsized considerably. I enjoy the environment I now live in and enjoy spending time with new people I have met. It’s not what I would have chosen, but it’s good. With the love of good friends and family, we can cope with change.

For those coping with illness it is harder still. For those facing illness or surgery, life can alter unimaginably. I think then, especially, it’s clinging on to the the small things that can help. Trying to keep to a routine so that life still seems relatively normal seems to help.Often I read of someone who has faced illness and has come through the other side, and they are grateful. Grateful in some way for having been ill so that they could take stock and look at life in a different way. That, to me, is bravery.

Blessings to you.

‘The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.’  

  J.M.Barrie  The Little Minister

Absract

Well I Suppose It Is A Bit Funny..

Settling back into routine again after a holiday always takes a few days; unzipped empty suitcases gape at me accusingly from the corner of the bedroom before they are packed away until the next time; the washing pile festers in another corner, and the passports are put back in the drawer. The summer clothes are hung again in the wardrobe in the vague hope that there will be some more warm weather sometime soon. It’s time to open the windows and let the fresh air in; to unpack the lavender soaps, stockpiled so there are enough to remind me of Provence all year round. And it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

Getting back into the swing of things can take many forms. There are lovely upsides like meeting my elderly dad from the bus after his return from a trip to Cornwall, his straw hat swinging from his neck as he says ‘Ye gods, what a journey!’ Hugging my grandchildren and spending time with them, and my granddaughter excitedly arriving to stay the night.

Today after spending some time putting the apartment here at Dove Lane to rights, I booked a much needed appointment at the nail salon; it was time to give my toes a treat.

Deep into Hello magazine, I switch off as my feet are scrutinised, scrubbed, trimmed, painted etc. I read about all the various celebrities and their busy, exotic lives. I read about the eye watering amount spent on someone’s engagement ring and the luxury homes of some familiar famous faces. For ten minutes I dip into the lives of the rich and famous, read a bit of the gossip, then put the magazine back on the pile where it belongs, and think about what to get for supper.

I sit and wait for my now snazzy nails to dry and look out of the window as the rain pours down and bounces off the tables outside the coffee shop. Absently think it would have been a good idea to have brought a brolly. And I wonder whether it had been worth blow drying my hair earlier.

The lady helps me slide my feet into my flip flops and I pay up and head for the door. Horizontal rain assaults me . Hurtling along to my car, my greasy feet slip on the wet ground and I half ski, half slide to my car, just saving myself from falling as I make a lunge for the door handle. Hanging from the handle I feel like a cartoon character, and can almost hear the wizzy sound effects of my feet going round and round. I hear some teenagers sniggering and feel silly. I want to glare at them and tell them it’s NOT FUNNY! But then –  in the words of Daddy Pig – I suppose it is a BIT funny.

Happy holidays.

Blessings to you.

Everything is different yet completely the same…

We returned to Provence this week; a place we have been to many times. Mostly we have stayed in the same holiday home, high in the hills in the Louberon region. Our cottage is set amidst lavender fields, and as I sit writing this I look to my right and see a swathe of purple flowers, flanked by the mountains of the Vacluse beyond. The gentle aroma of lavender fills the air, like a constant waft of perfume from a genteel grandmamas lace handkerchief.

So far we have had cloudless blue skies, hot, sticky days and the comfortable feeling that the weather is set fair, at least for the time we are here. The days are spent relaxing, shopping, reading and eating. We don’t tend to venture far these days, preferring to chill out and just soak up the atmosphere. That is beauty of knowing somewhere so well; the exploring has been done, the paths well worn to the familiar places,  and the best shops visited and revisited. Of course, there are times when a little voice in our heads urges us to go out and explore, and we do; indeed there is always a little change here and there, enough to pique our interest without taking us too far out of our way.

There is always a feeling of peace here but one can let one’s mind drift and absorb a faint feeling of disquiet when the mist draws in and the sky darkens around the hills. There are centuries of history here that assail you at every twist and turn in the medieval villages, and our local town of Saignon has been a settlement since the Iron Age.

We sat in the gardens here for the first time in 2001; we had not long arrived and had just heard the devastating news that the Twin Towers had fallen. So far from home and utterly shocked, we could only listen to the news in disbelief. As we sat in our tranquil setting we found it hard to think of such atrocities taking place.

Other years have seen us all facing mixed fortunes; such is the see- saw of life. We’ve planned happy weddings, celebrated the birth of various grandchildren, found ourselves seeking rest after house moves and lost people dear to us.

It is interesting to note that during our evening strolls when the sun is setting again over the fields, we discuss at some length our latest concerns and worries; what will happen about this or that, should we move/ change direction/is everyone okay? And yet can we remember what we worried about and talked about this time last year? I’m not sure we can, so I guess that must tell us something.

Whatever is happening, there are some things that never change, yet life always evolves. Sad things happen, people come and people go, hearts break a thousand times. Good things happen, babies are born, grandchildren double up with laughter and your heart bursts with love.

Through changing times the sun will still rise and set over the hills of Provence, new, younger and enthusiastic tourists will discover the delights of Bonnieux as the older ones slow their pace. But the old and well worn paths will always be here; the vines will flourish and the vats will always be filled with wine.

Au revoir until I’m back in Dove Lane

Blessings to you.

image

The Angel’s Wings

It’s been a sad week this week. A week of loss. A week of asking: why? As I do my usual slow ramble around the lanes and listen to my music, the normal lift to my spirits is absent. Maybe we all need to give in sometimes, and admit that life sucks. Once we do that we can pick ourselves up again and carry on.

My blog is short this week but I hope anyone go through tough times can take a little comfort from the following poem….

Blessings to you.Angel on cloud

 

The Angel’s Wings

The angel sat among the clouds
Amidst the darkening skies,
Her golden curls were tangled
And she rubbed her tired eyes.

The sun was dipping in the west
On Earth it was time to sleep,
But the angel knew that it was best
To be helping those beneath.

She softly flapped her gentle wings
And flew down from above
To silently look at those in need
And surround them with her love.

For that long night her work was hard
She saw the tears and sorrow,
The challenge of the changing world;
Would it be the same tomorrow?

No one saw her standing there
As they sought to find some peace,
But they felt a lessening of fear,
And the grip of worry cease.

‘Dear Lord,’ she prayed, as she reached home,
‘I just don’t look my best,
My wings are shabby, my dress is torn,
But there was much unrest.’

‘Oh precious child,’ the Lord replied,
‘There is kindness in your heart,
You do not judge, but gently guide
With all that you impart.’

‘Look not upon your ragged wings
For they will soon repair.
Just know the hope your presence brings
To those who feel despair.’

And those upon the Earth were blessed
As they faced a brand new day,
Embraced by a silent angel
Who had helped them find there way.

© Lyn Halvorsen

 

Finding the Opposite of Bleakness…

What do we do when we feel really down about the state of things; when the world seems bleak and our hearts are blackened by the sorrows that have befallen ourselves and others? In a week where there have been terrible tragedies affecting innocent people, where do we go to find some comfort? More importantly, how do those involved find peace?

How do we find a way to deal with all the bad news we hear seemingly day in, day out? Pictures of harrowing sufferings unfold in front of our eyes on our television screens 24/7, and the memories leave their mark and come back to haunt us. Some people tell me they avoid the news; they ask what is the point of listening to it all when the problems are out of our control? I understand this viewpoint and I agree that we need to take ‘time out’ at times, but I liken this to sitting in a darkened room; by turning off the lights the bad things will be cloaked in darkness, but they will still be there when the lights come back on. Best to stay in the light and let these things show themselves.

I know that I do feel like saying: ‘What on earth is happening here, what is happening to our world and its people? Why do such innocent people suffer.?’ A much wiser person than I may have an answer. I certainly don’t. But the old adage is true: one candle can be enough to cause the darkness to go away. Once I choose to raise my own awareness I will have done what I can to defeat the dark side of human nature and to discover that a higher reality can be found and lived.

And perhaps the only thing that seems to help in times of worry and sadness is life’s routine. Getting the chores done, watering the plants, preparing food and feeding the family, walking the dog; all these things demand our attention whatever else is going on. By focusing on the small things we realise that those are the things that get us through. After being out in the frenetic world, watching and listening to what seems to make some people ‘tick’ and the seeming importance of riches, I return home and walk around the nearby meadow and feel the grass under my feet and revel in a pleasure that costs nothing and soothes the soul.

When I go out and walk, I usually put on my headphones and listen to my favourite music or listen to one of my favourite motivational gurus. Soon I seem to find some perspective and realise that this world keeps on turning whatever unrest occurs, and will still be turning when we are long gone. I have to have faith that those taken tragically and senselessly from us, whoever they are, and whether we know them are not, are held somewhere where only love and peace abides. For the mother cut down in her prime, I hope the example she set by striving for a more peaceful and fairer world will stay with us and encourage us to carry on on her behalf. I pray for her children; bereft without their loving mother. I pray for an innocent family mowed down in the street on the sunny last day of summer and the heartbroken ones they leave behind.

I pray with all my heart that the little girl who died at just six years old, at the cruel hands of her own father, will be safely looked after by the angels. I hope that she will be cradled and loved, and feel all the happiness she should have felt all the days of her life on earth.

In the dictionary the definition of bleakness is: cheerlessness, desolation, despondency, dis-consolation, heavy-heartedness and more.

Antonyms of that include: cheerfulness, encouragement, happiness, HOPE, hopefulness.

It’s going to be okay, maybe not today, but someday.

‘Where there is hatred let me sow love.’  Francis of Assisi. 

Blessings to you.