The future waiting in the past ...

The Sun moves forward again. A sense of newness is in the air.

I always noticed this as a child, not knowing all the significances but hearing the grownups talking, saying, ‘Now the world moves on. We can begin to think of what we’ll do in the coming year. It’s time to look at the past year and see what happened, what worked, what we take forward.’ It didn’t mean as much then as it does now but then, my life was much smaller, bounded by garden and home and cats and school and my pony. Oh and helping Uncle Perce in the orchard with the chickens and apples – that was how the pocket-money came in. And helping Dad with the car and the garden – more pocket money but I also enjoyed learning how engines worked as well as about gardening.

Life was also full of tome on my own and I used to love the cold and the snows of winter for that as much as the sun and warmth of summer. Life seems to me to have been much freer in those days, the 1950s and early 60s. I ran wild in the woods, the disused quarry, the fields and lanes from as soon as I could walk successfully on my own and knew my way home. Must have been around age 5 I suppose because once my aunts had walked me to school a few times, through the town of Okehampton, I was set off with my satchel at a quarter past eight for the half hour walk across town and up the hill to Miss Chay’s Academy – a godforsaken hole I now think but there you go! It worked well enough at the time. I wonder how many 5yr-olds walk to school for half an hour on their own nowadays? It was perfectly normal then.

I loved the walk. I was on my own, able to dawdle by shops and at the end of the parkas I wished, with nobody to hurry me on. I could note that the robin always sat on that gatepost during January and accepted my saved breakfast crumbs. Mrs Thingy’s dog always barked. The black cat by the corner always arched and purred to me. I had a whole collection of non-human friends to talk to every day on the walk to school and back.

Snow in town in the 1950s was very different to now. Far less traffic. Far less people … far less people in the world so we all had time for each other and didn’t need to feel paranoid and protective about our own patch in the way everyone seems to now, because there are 3-times as many people all grabbing for even less resources.

Snow in the country, where I lived from age 7, was different too. The quiet was one of the wonderful things I remember – we have it again here, where we live now as our nearest neighbour and road is best part of a mile away. A quiet full of our Elder Brothers, all the animals and trees, plants and birds, fish in the rivers … rather than rowdy humans who don’t notice such things.

Our elder brothers help me a lot in the review I make each year over the 12 nights between Sun-Return and the end of the Winter Festival. 12 nights in which to review the twelve months of the past year. What will I find as I look back over the time this year, a whole Earth-cycle as she dances her path around the sun. The review begins today … what will I find?

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

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