When the Well is Dry….

When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.

 

I spent time at our allotment today. We have been spending a lot of time there over the last few weeks, weeding, clearing, preparing the soil and finally, planting.

Our allotment is a beautiful space. Now we don’t have a garden we really appreciate our plot of land and the peaceful, unspoiled environment. We are surrounded  by fields, hedges and a cherry orchard. It is a haven for bees, birds and butterflies. Once there, all the hustle and bustle of the outside world disappears, the mood lifts and nature works its charm.

Although it’s not too long since we have had rain, the ground already seemed dry today and we needed to water our newly planted vegetable patch. As I walked back and forth to the water butt to fill the watering cans, I started thinking about our need for water, its importance in our daily life, how we need to save it and how we need to drink clean water for healthy life. Each time I returned to the water butt for a refill I stood and watched the pure water flow from the pipe into the watering cans; splashing and flowing, in plentiful supply, conserved from the generous winter rain showers, stray droplets sparkling in the sunshine.

I started thinking about people in other lands where there is dire need for clean, safe  drinking water that is readily available. In many developing countries, millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources, and I thought about the children who die of water related diseases. I read recently that almost 2 in 3 people who need safe drinking water survive on less than £2 a day. (There is a lot more information at Wateraid.org )

Today, here at home in early summer, with the sun peeking out occasionally from behind the scudding clouds,  still glad of a sweater in this temperamental climate, I was grateful.

 

 

I wish that I had special powers
And could turn everything around,
So we could change the way we look at things,
And keep our feet above the ground.

To ask the floating clouds above
To spill the gentle rain,
To water the dry and barren land
And make it green again.

And could I harness the force of the wind,
Calm the raging sea,
Reign over nature’s wayward mind,
And let it quietly be?

For every child in every land,
There would be food enough to eat,
Arms stretched out to hold them tight,
And shelter from the heat.

And what if I could ask the world,
To find the path to peace,
With every countrys’ flag unfurled
As all the wars have ceased?

But if I cannot change the world,
I can bend when the storm appears,
Do great things in smaller ways,
Dry another’s tears.

For I alone cannot decide
The way the world should be,
And I cannot begin to know
What there is still to be.
© Lyn Halvorsen

 

Blessings to you.

watering can

 

Music to my years…

I thought I would have a bit of fun this week. Please excuse me if this seems a bit indulgent.

I have often wondered what records I would choose in the unlikely event of being a celebrity guest on Desert Island Discs. (For anyone from different shores, Desert Island discs is a weekly radio program on BBC Radio 4 that has been running for many years and is almost a national institution. Each week a ‘castaway’ is asked to choose eight records, one book – in addition to the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare – and one luxury item that they would take to the island, whilst discussing their life and reasons for their choices.)

It’s quite hard to narrow your choice of records to eight..eighty would probably be better but here goes:

Song 1       Yellow Submarine       The Beatles

There is quite an age gap between my sister and me. I was thirteen when she was born and she became my sweetest little shadow. At night she would often wake and would only be soothed by me singing a (wobbly) version of Yellow Submarine. I don’t think I ever knew the words all the way through but often just singing the first few lines over and over again was enough to keep her happy. These days I only need to hear the opening bars of the song and I am transported back to her little room in our house in Somerset.

Song 2      Your Song                     Elton John

Leaving home for the first time was a very emotional time. I was eighteen and about to start my nursing career in Bristol. To me it was momentous. I had dreamed of being a nurse ever since I was a little girl but now the time had come I was full of trepidation and already homesick. The months before I left were full of plans, preparations and the realisation that life was changing for ever. ‘Your Song’ was in the charts during those days before I set off for Bristol; I loved it the very first time I heard those poignant opening chords and still do today.

Song 3       Maggie May                Rod Stewart

I started my nursing training. Before long I was wearing the nurse’s uniform that had been laid out on the bed for me in my spartan room in the nurse’s home. I got used to starching the cap every night, and wrapping myself in the cloak always worn by nurses back then to keep out the chill of the draughty hospital corridors. I made new friends that I still have to this day. I soon came to realise there was a lot of hard work and long hours involved! Sometimes it was hard but I kept going. I can still remember some of my patients to this day, and the sadness and the humour encountered along the way.

Several times I had noticed a dark and handsome dental student smiling at me, his white surgical coat flapping in the breeze. He had a certain nonchalant look about him which intrigued me. We met properly at a hospital dance; me in a long hippy dress and he in a flowery shirt and loon pants. That was it. We have been together ever since. And Maggie May is the song that always transports me back to that incredible time. (I could mention Carole King and Neil Young here if I was allowed, but that would be cheating).

Song 4       Livin’ On A Prayer       Bon Jovi

I could pick so many songs that remind me of my two sons. I think the happiest times in most parents lives are the ones related to their children. Through all the different phases of childhood and beyond, music seems to play an important part. I remember all the musical genres with affection …yes sometimes it was loud but it meant they were home. One really happy memory is of the two of them bundled together in the hall listening to Bon Jovi at full blast. The younger one was only about three at the time but whatever his brother liked then so did he!

Song 5       This Guy’s In Love With You       Herb Alpert

Although this is a romantic love song it really reminds me of family. I remember listening to this many years ago with my mother. It reminds me of sunny days and of life as it was many years ago. It’s one of my all time favourites and it has stood the test of time.

Song Six     Home Thoughts From Abroad      Clifford T. Ward

To me Clifford T. Ward was a singer/songwriter of immense talent. Sadly he died at a fairly young age of multiple sclerosis but his legacy lives on in his wonderful words and music.

Home Thoughts From Abroad is one of the most beautiful songs in the world. If you have some time listen to the song and then download the lyrics. They are perfect. They talk of love and missing home. They manage to weave thoughts of everyday life with sublime poetry. They are wistful and poignant. I have most of Clifford’s songs on my i pod and never tire of listening to them.

Song Seven        Going Back              Dusty Springfield

For Brian. Because he loves it. Again, good lyrics.

Song Eight        Jerusalem         Words by William Blake  Music by Sir Hubert Parry

This is more than a hymn. It is almost our National Anthem. It takes one back to school assembly, to singing one’s heart out in church, to the Last Night at The Proms, and to all things patriotic. Wherever I was in the world this would always remind me of home and bring a tear to the eye.

Well there we have my eight desert island discs. I realise there is nothing remotely up to date here. I promise you I like lots of modern music too and there are lots of greats I know I have left out. I could leave you a very long list but that wouldn’t be sticking to the rules.

My book of choice would be Mariana by Monica Dickens because I loved reading it as a young girl and I have re-read it many times.

And my luxury item? Difficult choice between mascara and lip gloss but I think mascara wins. Then again I wouldn’t have a mirror….

Jubilee 003

The Field of Diamonds

It is easy to take for granted the bounty that is laid in front of us; lush green fields, leafy forests, and clear, flowing rivers.

I once read a story about a person getting to Heaven and being shown a picture of a beautiful land. When he asked where this amazing place was, a passing Angel told him it was the world he had just left.

We could search the world over looking for a special field of diamonds, only to find it was underneath our feet all along.

 

I dreamed I met a stranger,
His eyes were very kind,
He looked upon me standing near
As if he could read my mind.
He didn’t ask me who I was
Or why I had come this way,
But I was happy to hang out
And pass the time of day.

As the night was drawing in,
He handed me a book
With heavy covers edged in gold
And I was compelled to take a look.
As I turned the many pages
The pictures made me sigh,
For they spilled the beauty of the ages
A thousand years gone by.

There were forests of majestic trees;
I could almost breathe the air
That filtered through the very leaves
That grew and flourished there.
Rivers flowed throughout the land
Until they met the sea,
Waves rushed in to meet the sand
And the birds soared wild and free.

And plenitude and abundance
Was there for me to see,
In the rosy coloured apples
And the buzzing honey bee.
And as the land was laid before me
Like a treasured map of old,
I longed to find this blessed place,
See the mystery unfold.

But the kindly stranger looked at me
With wisdom and with grace
And said I wouldn’t need directions
To lead me to this place.
He urged me to open my weary eyes
Really look about, and see
That it was my own field of diamonds
That was laid in front of me.

© Lyn Halvorsen

Blessings to you.

2012-06-27 09.40.42

Worries go down better with soup..

I love this old Jewish proverb..’ Worries go down better with soup.’

How comforting it is to feed and to be fed. From the moment we are born and laid in our mother’s arms we are programmed to fulfill our body’s need for nourishment, both physically and mentally.

As youngsters and teenagers we may have wondered why we had to spend many hours sitting around a dining table with our families, having to sit still, eat everything on our plates and wait patiently until everyone else had finished, including perhaps a tetchy great aunt who joined in on special occasions and dominated the conversation.

Sometimes we were made to eat things we didn’t like, only to develop an actual appreciation for them in later life ( I’m thinking mashed suede) and sometimes we can never smell the distinct aroma of overcooked greens without being transported back to our grandmother’s house! And sometimes we look back on some of the delicacies we were served, with total wistfulness. My Devonshire grandfather would upend a freshly baked loaf of bread, spread it with the best butter and slice it so thinly it looked like lace laid on a china plate. It was ambrosial. My Cornish grandmother made the best porridge and served it with lashings of clotted cream and  brown sugar. No matter how I try, I can’t replicate either of these two. Maybe that’s how it should be – a delicious memory.

Perhaps when we are grown up we look back on those occasions with nostalgia and realise how they shaped our daily lives; the sometimes unruly banter served up with the Sunday lunch, or the rather tuneless version of Happy Birthday that accompanied the arrival of a home-made birthday cake. Even the ordinary days when we sat worrying about homework and looming exams were bolstered by a good supper before we dragged our feet upstairs to study.

As a Cornish girl I could ramble on and on about the the food I was lucky enough to eat growing up. Considering rationing had only just finished when I was born, my mother and grandmother’s larders showed no sign of scarcity. But perhaps they made the very best of what was on offer, and took advantage of the locally farmed produce too. Most of all, my grandmother loved nothing better than to entertain and I can still picture her dining table already laid for supper when most of us were still replete from a more than ample lunch.

But we all have different memories, different likes and dislikes. We may all embrace different diets but one thing is for sure, there are times when it’s good to share food with family and friends both old and new wherever you are.

And on those days when life appears a bit dismal, what could be more comforting than an arm around the shoulder and a lovingly prepared piece of chocolate cake?

I remember an occasion when I was about six years old and upset about something that had happened at school. My Godmother came to fetch me on her scooter, placed me on the back and told me to hold on tight. She took me to a cafe and ordered hot buttered toast and tea. I was soon smiling again.

This blog has turned a bit more ‘foodie’ than I intended, but maybe that’s a good thing. I cannot finish without mentioning a bit more about my mother who is no longer with me. Whenever we arrived back from a holiday there would be an egg and bacon pie waiting on our kitchen table, and a light and fluffy Victoria sandwich bursting with jam. There would be a little note with a funny drawing on it and the words ‘yum yum.’ Thanks Mum.

‘If you really want to make a friend, go to someones’s house and eat with them…the people who give you their food give you their heart.’  Cesar Chave

           Blessings to you.

     Ella’s  Vegan Chocolate Cake    (delicious..I have the recipe..)

Cake

Bluebells and Dreams

 

Whenever times get a bit challenging it’s good to get out and commune with nature. No matter what the weather, there is always something new to see this time of year;  new buds unfurling a little more each day on the horse-chestnut tree, in turn to grow into the tall white ‘candles’ that grace the tree in early summer; the rooks having a good time preparing their nests high in the lofty trees, anticipating the warmer days ahead.

 Have you ever noticed that the earliest Spring flowers are either white or yellow? Snowdrops, Celandine, Primrose, Anemone, Daffodil – all are golden or white. As Spring advances, the blue flowers follow in her footsteps. Violets take the place of Snowdrops and Primroses give way to sheets of Bluebells.

The country side around us here in Buckinghamshire is always spectacular but I particularly love this time of the year. But I do need to allow extra times for my journeys for I cannot pass the woods without stopping, finding my way in and walking through the damp earth (always with the wrong shoes on) to admire the scene. Here I see a wonderful carpet of Bluebells beneath my feet and inhale their delicate scent. Sometimes I take out my camera and take more pictures to add to my ever-increasing portfolio; usually I cannot resist, but sometimes it’s good just to be still.

 

Bluebells

The Bluebell wood is truly a magical place. I imagine little furry creatures leaving their winter quarters and creeping out to sniff the warm breeze. Nature’s children waking up to joyfully prepare for the joys and labours of Spring and Summer.

This is a place to reconnect with our roots and a place to dream….

Garden of Dreams

Once I dreamed I was in a magical wood;
A carpet of Bluebells where I stood.
The nightingale sang to the velvet night
And set a myriad of stars alight.
And the lofty trees bent their branches low
To fold me in their arms below,
In that peaceful land of sleep.

And alone amidst those scented flowers,
I felt the peace of the night-time hours
Settle around me like the softest cloth;
A tapestry woven with the spirit of love.
And I tumbled through a mystic land
Until daylight led me by the hand
Back from that peaceful land of sleep.

© Lyn Halvorsen

 

Blessings to you.

To me you are the world’s best bear..

I’m getting on a bit but the older I get the more I feel the importance of reconnecting with childish things. As I sit and watch the occasional children’s programme with my grandchildren I see the world through their eyes. The colours are brighter, you can say what you really feel, and all things are possible; even magic!

Recently I watched a programme about antiques. Here they featured a pair of elderly teddy bears. One was a similar age to my own dearly loved bear –  but this bear had glass eyes;  a good sign apparently, and had felt soles on the feet, also a good sign. The difference however, was that this bear was up for auction (no!!) and was in tip top condition because he had never been played with! What!? Who wants a bear in pristine condition? (Well someone did as they paid a thousand pounds for him, but that’s not the point.)

Part of a bear’s charm is surely found in his threadbare appearance, a sure sign he has been dragged up through the years; sometimes cuddled to within an inch of his life, taken to play-group, dressed up and wheeled about, sometimes abandoned through teenage years but always on standby to be picked up and cried on during broken romances etc.  He was always loved.

Here’s a poem about my own bear. (Who will never be sold.)teds

My faithful friend you look quite worn
You’ve been around since I was born.
Rough and tumble through the years
Has left you with some tatty ears.
Your beady eyes don’t quite match,
Your tummy has a threadbare patch.
I’m afraid your growl sounds rather weak-
Really just a timid squeak.
I often think if you were willing
I’d treat you to some brand new filling.
I would stitch up all your gaping seams
And comb your fur until it gleams.
But what’s a bit of wear and tear?
To me you are the worlds best bear.

  Lyn Halvorsen

Kindness Matters. Always.

Kindness Matters. Always.  

This is my mantra.

No matter who we are, whatever gifts life has or has not bestowed on us, we all benefit from kindness. Words of kindness can help our fears and anxieties disappear, like ice melting in the warmth of the sun.

Perhaps I can offer a few examples of kindness I have encountered.

One day last year I was sitting outside a cafe enjoying some coffee and the early Spring sunshine. All was quiet until a group of young men walked towards the cafe. They appeared to be in boisterous spirits, shouting and laughing. Swaggering along dressed in their hoodies, they gave off an air of arrogant confidence. They ordered drinks and sat down at a nearby table. They were loud. To be honest I felt slightly uncomfortable next to them and a little annoyed that my space had been invaded. I began to make assumptions about where they were from and wondered why they were out and about. Why weren’t they at work or college? But my thoughts were interrupted when an elderly lady walking across the road tripped and fell, scattering all her shopping in the street. Before I had chance to move, the young men next to me all stood up and dashed over to help. I followed over too, to see if there was anything I could do. Very gently one of them checked the lady over to see if she was badly hurt, and as a group they wondered whether an ambulance was needed.

It was decided that the lady was just shaken up. Getting slowly to her feet she insisted she was okay but was agitated about her groceries and handbag. No problem they said, and gathered up all her things, reassuring her everything was there. I took her over to the cafe and sat her down whilst one of the young men went inside to order her some tea.

We all sat outside the cafe together, our chairs pulled round one table in a companionable circle. Soon the lady was smiling and feeling better .

She looked up at one of the lads. “Why, I know you! You are Jenny’s son from the next block of flats to me! I haven’t seen you for a long time! It’s young David isn’t it?

‘Young’ David smiled and looked embarrassed. “Yes that’s me.”

“Well I’m blessed,” said the lady, who’s name was Molly. “How you’ve grown! I’m so pleased to see you.”

We all chatted for a while and then David offered to walk Molly home. Off they went arm in arm, the others following behind. David promised to tell his Mother he had spent time with Molly and suggested Molly came round to visit sometime. Molly smiled such a sweet smile as she waved goodbye to me. An upsetting fall had had a happy ending.

I went inside and ordered another coffee. I thought about the boys and their kindness to an old lady. I realised one thing. It was not my business to question how anyone passes the time of day. And it was the last time I ever made assumptions.

I remember having to start a new school when I was thirteen as my family had moved house. I was crippled with shyness and it was a very distressing time in my life. I joined the school at a time when everyone had been there a while and had settled into new friendships. They all had their allocated seats and knew the routine. Break-time was miserable. I lurked around in the changing rooms as I didn’t have friends to hang out with. Sometimes after my father had dropped me off at the school gates I would watch him drive off and then I would turn around and walk the three miles home again. My parents were worried about me but at a loss about what to do.

I knew somehow I had to get used to going to school. Gradually some of the other girls started to include me in their circle and the days started to improve. It would take a while until I felt that I belonged but the person who really helped me was my English teacher. Mr. Walker was a kind and thoughtful gentleman who took an interest in me. He made me welcome and took time to concentrate on my work. He taught us good values and good manners by example. He gave me good marks for my essays! He instilled in me a lifelong love of writing. He remembered my name, even when we met by chance years later. Mr. Walker had a class full of pupils but he took the time to be kind to a young, timid girl. He must be long gone now, but I have never forgotten him.

Kindness often comes at times when we least expect it. A random stranger smiling and opening a door for us. A passer by giving us change for the parking ticket machine, or, as happened to me recently, a waitress who was so kind to me after a rough day she brought tears to my eyes.

No matter who we are and whatever our circumstances, we all have times we feel alone. We struggle to understand what is going on around us, both in our own small world and the big wide world too. Most of us have times when we feel lonely in a crowd; days when we wonder literally what this world is all about. These are the days when a small act of kindness goes a long way. These are the days when we can go home and shut the door and smile because someone made a difference.

One last word.

Some days I can get out of the bed the wrong side and feel grumpy. We all can. These are the times when it may be harder to summon up a smile or be polite. After several cold calls interrupting me on the telephone I can feel exasperated. Or maybe it has taken what seems like hours to be served at the checkout. Or perhaps I have been stuck in a long queue of traffic. These are the times I take a deep breath. These are the times I remember life is good. These are the times I tell myself I have today. I am lucky to have today. I am lucky to be able to walk around freely. I am lucky to have a phone I can take a call on no matter how irritating. I am lucky to have some change in my purse. Therefore I will go about my day…and I will be kind.