By “The Photographer’s Assistant”
The kettle bounced and quivered on the kitchen range. The Assistant moved about the kitchen, while the Photographer tried to wake up. A breakfast of creamy local eggs was steaming on the table. It was consumed in companionable silence. Coffee followed accompanied by all the large sections of the Saturday paper. The companions were relishing the day to come.
There was a honk outside the front door and a person was unloaded out of the car. Hugs were given all around and some generous gifts were given. The photographer disappeared to escort his friend down the drive and the Assistant put the kettle back on. It was a long time since these friends had seen one another and there was much to catch up with. The Photographer and his friend lingered on the veg. plot while the friend smoked his pipe and details of two growing seasons were exchanged, the two deep in serious discussion.
The two women were left to sit by the already lit fire discussing their families and the friend’s recent retirement. The men appeared to warm cold bottoms by the fire and demolish quantities of tea, coffee and biscuits. After much catching up, deciding that everyone’s adult children and the friend’s grandchild were fine at the moment, it was decided to set off on the great adventure. Wellingtons were put on and coats were secured against the damp air outside. The two men disappeared into the distance while the females still in deep conversation followed on; the whole time The Photographer’s Assistant was admiring her friend’s long woolly coat, the Assistant was far too short to wear such a warm and glorious item. On the way up the hill, sheep were admired and judged, particularly the Herdwick sheep, native’s of the Lake district, whose meat is so tender, it is beyond description.
The foursome had, at last, reached their destination. The top of the hill of the next hamlet had arrived. A stroll up the road and the foursome had reached their destination. There before them was the little medieval church, standing in simple silence amidst its Moorland surroundings. The foursome drew breath and were pleased to have arrived. This was what the day was about. The visiting couple had come here to remember the day on which their marriage was blessed, a simple remembrance of one of the most important days in their married lives. They did this every year and it made the Photographer and his Assistant wonder why they didn’t do the same. They thought it a really good idea.
The foursome paused outside the church gate while their friends brought forth from memory a picture of the day, who was there to support them, where beloved friends and relatives had stood as they entered the church. It was a deeply touching and poignant scene. The Photographer clutched his camera and the Assistant followed him as they left the other couple to enter the church to have their quiet time together. The Photographer concentrated on an carved angel which had been challenging him for some time. The light wasn’t right yet again and he was frustrated. He examined the area where recently he had helped remove a tree root, and was satisfied, then the companions returned to the church where their friends had lit two candles to mark the occasion and the group all joined in the hymn, “All Creatures Great and Small.” The friends being satisfied with their meditations, moved to the back of the church where a Thermos was produced and a warming cup of tea was drunk.
On departing the church, it was decided that there was time to visit the Hermitage, a local building, dating back many years to possibly the 13th century. Here a monk had lived alone to pray and reflect, when temptation appeared in the shape of the local miller’s daughter. She passed the monk’s dwelling every day and eventually temptation had become too much. The Monk had raped and murdered the girl and then ran away himself. This is the legend of the place. The four companions crossed some soggy ground and a river to get to it, and it was outstanding; having recently had some restoration work done on it. It had had five large trees, which had sprung up within it cut down. It had no roof and a window lintel was still in place. It reminded the band of pilgrims of how well populated this area would have been before the terrible Black Death, which devastated England’s population down to a level where such places were never inhabited again. The four friends stood and shivered. The atmosphere was terrible, strange and there was no comfort in it. You would have known that something dreadful had happened here even if you didn’t know the story. The Assistant produced two miniature bottles of peaty whisky and the foursome all had a swig before starting their way home through the twilight, down the hill to home. The Assistant was proud of the whisky which was sipped all the way. It had been needed. It was a very emotional day and the Photographer and the Assistant had been touched to be invited.
When the party arrived home, the Photographer and the Assistant turned their attention to the range and a simple and delicious supper was produced of pasta with home made pesto, focaccia, bread and apple crumble, all washed down with the friend’s delicious white wine. Everyone being very full, the friends drank coffee and tea in front of the fire and dreamed of more Dartmoor winter walks to come as a change from all that vegetable growing.
Yesterday, the Photographer and his Assistant planted the daffodil bulbs, which the friends had brought for the purpose, on Marcus grave and were satisfied with a fitting tribute. Thank you to all of you who wrote and said such kind words about him. We were very touched.