Of Treasured Arrivals and Signs of a Season To Come

By “The Photographer’s Assistant”

 

Last year the Photographers Assistant wrote of this very special time of year. It is a time when many people arrive to breath the fresh air and take time out from techno driven lives. There are many new people in the little town now and they throng about getting their heads straight and recovering from long journeys. We forget amongst the business the arrival of the small ones, the little children, who have journeyed to see loved ones, the chance to see a grandparent, a treasured relative or a parent estranged from their home.

What visiting child could resist such delicious scones?

What visiting child could resist such delicious scones?

Many decades ago a small child was despatched in a similar manner literally to a different country. The long school holiday had begun, the child’s mother was ill and had taken herself and her new baby off on a coach to her own parents house. Arrivals and departures, the theme of the school holidays to this day. The older child had been sent to be looked after by her mother’s best friend, who happened to be her husband’s sister. The child had no idea about anything. She had been sent a very long distance on a coach stuffed with holiday makers and women, who knitted and eat sandwiches. They were the Grandmothers coming to help. If you look around the small town today, you will still see the modern version, toiling up vast hills with heavy push chairs. This child is wide eyed and is accompanied by her teddy in a companionable silence. On arrival in a strange land, her only uncle who owns a car toils towards the coach cursing at interrupting his work. He picks up the heavy suitcase and lifts it and the child into the car. The car ascends the most enormous hill, it just keeps going up and up. There is a strange conversation of some sort. The uncle is not used to the child and has none of his own, indeed of all this huge family of aunts and uncles, this child and her baby brother are the only children. The aunt has been pacing and her husband sits out side on his chair on the concrete in front of the house. The child and the bear descend from the car. She is completely occupied by the sight of her aunt, who in her home surroundings, not dressed to visit her mother, is the most amazing creature. She is very tall some of her aunts are, she has coal black eyes. Her skin is gypsy brown. Her clothes are long and are tied down by the most pretty apron. She has curly dark and grey hair that curls enchantingly around her face, a face that smiles a steady welcome.

Many children sent for the school holidays have wondrous experiences and the child was no different. She learnt about wild gardening for instance, which was far from a standard veg. plot. Her uncle was a clever collector of wild food and they would spend many a happy hour scavenging in a chapels wasted garden, returning with goodies to be cooked on the coal fired range. There would be wild berries bursting out of the most delicious pies. Her aunt was the mistress of this range on which all sorts of amazing concoctions were made.The child became an expert dominoes player almost to professional standard and her knowledge of card games terrified her aged grandmother. Her grandmother and aunt financed the stay with judicious visits to cousins and friends, where the child, who unknown to relatives could speak fluent welsh, would be totally silent listening to scandalous gossip with a sweet smile on her face and well behaved in order to produce a half crown piece in exchange for a small kiss upon the cheek. Of course, you know that the child became the Photographers Assistant.

 

Picking the little red jewels

Picking the little red jewels

Today is a very special day in a little boy’s weekend. This time the child is Welsh and has crossed the border in the opposite direction to the little girl. He is coming to the little town, which he has now grown to love. He is coming for a stay with his father and his girlfriend. The girlfriend is very pretty, and again, interesting in her strange clothes with her strange South Eastern English accent. Her skin is a rose pink. He gives her the biggest shy hug he can muster. He runs upstairs to make sure all his toys are still there while the girlfriend hovers over the cake she has been cooking for him. She is the Assistant’s daughter and the story begins all over again.

What has all of this to do with the Moor? It has everything to do with it. The Assistant and the Photographer live here, because it exactly reflects the place the Assistant loved most. There are hills to be climbed, wilderness to explore, room to grow food and a warmth that comes with the hill country. The Photographer enjoys the wilderness and could photograph it for ever. This is what can come of those visits from small children, so beware all you relatives and take care with those seemingly innocuous experiences you offer your own small relatives for they could last and influence a whole life time!

So to matters at hand. We are preparing for autumn for we do not know when it will come. Already, after the solstice, we have a freshening air in the evenings even on the hot summer days. All the fruit in the garden must be harvested and squirrelled away. To confirm that autumn is on its way, we have had the autumn phone call from our log supplier. Soon he will come when it is probably hot and you do not want to think of winter evenings. Some while ago, I wrote a poem about his summer arrival and this is it.

 

IT WAS JULY

It was July
And John brought the wood
The wood that smelt of winter

It was July
Drought stricken land
Burnishing heat
No water in the butts
Dead trees
A dwindling stream
No life in the air
Ground cracked wide open

It was July
But we all knew

It was July
We had all seen the signs
The birds on the wire
The moor’s cold night air

It was July
And John brought the wood
The wood that smelt of winter

Copyright Sue Bennett

 

It was July, and John brought the wood

It was July, and John brought the wood

 

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