Saturday, 4 February 2012

The past lies over and within everything. When my eldest daughter was two years old we lived in Scotland in a farmhouse called Yonderton for just over two years.  'He', there to work was absent a good part of that time, leaving the two of us behind each day.  I would stand at one of the windows to catch a glimpse of his car flashing between the trees, whilst behind me the enormous house groaned and creaked and blew icy breaths even throughout the summer days.  Yonderton stands on a flat piece of ground.  Before it, the fields drop away to the road and behind the hill gently rises towards the white-blue sky. Of the three sparsely furnished rooms upstairs the master bedroom would have made four of this room I write in now.  We never slept in it.  It was just too cold and too enormous.  The furnishings supplied by our landlord farmer, comprised of two dining chairs, a bed so high you practically needed steps to get into it and an old dressing-table. So...not cosy then.  I chose the smaller room at the front for us, overlooking the meadow, so we might hear the bleating of sheep and catch sight of the sea glistening in the distance or watch the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry sailing out for the Isle of Arran and coming home to port six times daily.
Tarbert hill, four hundred and fifty-three feet of tough, sheep cropped grass stood between us and the beautiful misty blue, Isle of Arran.   Like a massive sleeping dinosaur the hillside towered across from Yonderton  at the bottom of the lane.  We climbed up one Sunday afternoon to stand at the summit buffeted by wild winds yet entranced by a view across the sheltered waters of the Firth of Clyde to the magical blue and mauve island and it's snow-capped mountains.
I can't remember being lonely, but I must have been, knowing nobody and with no neighbours close-by.  I only remember loosing my heart to this wonderful place where it was quite likely some of our Viking descendants roamed and lived.  One winter's morning we went walking and staggering up the hill just to the left on the photograph.  There were young bullocks in the field higher up so we were skirting around to enter the garden when they all came over to investigate who we were.   This woman and small child.  They weren't large beasts but never-the-less towering over the small form of my daughter, and budging and shoving me with their bulk, blowing out sweet misty smoke from black nostrils into the frosty air.  I picked her up to swing her on my hip and grabbed a small branch to poke them away, beginning to feel intimidated by a bunch of curious teenagers it seemed.  Lowering my voice an octave and hoping to sound bold and commanding,
"On with you...away with you beasts!" just as I had previously heard the cowman shout I hoped.
I never thought that I could feel in the least threatened by a herd of cows.  Not so.  They gathered behind us pushing and shoving each other as we scrambled over the fence into the garden only to find ourselves in a carpet of massed snowdrops in a part of the garden we hadn't noticed before.
'The moment you first  wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours.  No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen.  And the fact that it practically always doesn't matters not a jot.'   -Monica Baldwin-

15 comments:

Teresa Evangeline said...

Oh, how I loved reading this. Wonderful descriptions and what an interesting part of your life you've shared. If it was a book, I'd keep reading, unable to put it down. The image of the cows I can so relate to, as I've had my own experience along these lines. That they jostled you right over the fence and into a yet undiscovered part of the garden is magical and so serendipitous. I Love how the universe seems to work.

The china you've photographed is exquisite and create a beautiful tableau. The snowdrops in their sweet little vase: Perfect.

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Dearest Teresa, how lovely are your words, Wow! I'm so knocked out that you enjoyed reading and would have wished to read on as well. My smile goes from ear to ear and right around my head I think!! ;)))
I'm feeling a little better this week and now after those words of encouragement I feel ten times improved!!
It WAS magical to practically fall into such a thick carpet of tiny snowdrops. There were so many. Singles and double heads they must have been reproducing by the masses over many years. I think they are always such a surprise and delight.

The china is indeed as you say exquisite. My husband inherited it from someone who did the world tour way back when it was the done thing. Each cup, saucer, plate and tea-pot are exquisitely hand-painted with a different scene,they apparently detail a story, and they are delicately translucent when held to the light. The old fan behind was rescued, so the story goes from the ruins of Hiroshima.

Big hugs
Jane x

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Dear Jane,
You really do write so beautifully....it is a joy to read your posts.
I can see just why you loved it there. Even in winter it takes on a beautiful quality.
Cows can be quite intimidating can't they ? I think that, as you probably know, you have to stand up to them and show them who is boss !!
As my birthday is in February, snowdrops have always been one of my favourite flowers..... and, there are so many different varieties as well.
Hope that you are feeling well Jane and also keeping warm. I'm sure that you are wearing those wonderful red socks of yours today !!.....it's freezing here and we are supposed to be having snow tomorrow Brrrrr !! XXXX

June said...

How how magical it must have been Jane. You write so that I feel like I am there watching it all. You, prodding the cattle away. And you and your little one standing in the wind. What a beautiful picture it paints in my mind.
I have always had a fascination with how you name your houses over there.
Yonderton looks like a wonderful place to have lived in. It looks like my whole house could fit in just a portion of it.
I laughed about the cattle crowding in on you, because my husband and I had a dairy for many years and I would go to bring the cows in and sometimes I felt as if they where herding me :)
I hope all is going great for you dear friend. I wish you a wonderful week ahead.
hugs from here...

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Yep I have those on those gorgeous red socks....it's freezing up here. Hope you aren't snowed in where you are Jackie?

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Ha ha! So you know a lot about cows and herding June, running a dairy must have been REALLY hard work!! I'd never been near any cows let alone bullock before this incident, I can tell you I gained a whole lot more respect for this lumbering beasts.

Teresa Evangeline said...

That fan! I'm so glad you shared its history. Oh, my. Really goose-bump inducing for me. I thought the china looked like individual scenes. Really beautiful. Thank you for telling me about it.

I'm so glad you're feeling better.

WOL said...

I love things with histories -- houses, dishes, fans. I have a tatty old bowl with a worn pattern that looks like something you'd feed the dog in, but when you know it belonged to my great grandmother, it completely changes how you look at it. Some of my mother's brothers and sisters kept cows, big red bodied white faced Herefords, so I can relate to your bullock experience, and how intimidating it must be for a mother with a small child.

The picture of the house is fascinating and the name - Yonderton - is positively magical.

Lynn said...

You know, Jane, you SHOULD write a book! I would pop over for an autographed copy. xoxo

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Jane:
Oh how we have been beguiled by Yonderton. How beautifully you create a sense of the place, it was as if we were in the field of snowdrops with you.

And, what a magical sight they are, sheets of these brave white harbingers of spring, poking through frozen ground. How you must have been reminded of them by your incredibly sweet posy of them in the glass vase.

A friend of ours who has a collection of different Snowdrops in her garden used to arrange Snowdrop parties in February to celebrate their arrival. In addition to a marvellous lunch, w would all brave the cold to get on bended knee and marvel at these beauties of the plant world!

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Dear WOL, I totally agree with you about your grandmothers bowl, I don't think it matters at all that something is far from perfect it has history and that makes it beautiful in my eyes. Being as you say, 'a tatty old bowl' means that of course your Grandmother used it every day and it was probably one of her favourites don't you think!

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Ha Ha Lynn, I'm optimistic!

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Dear Jane and Lance, What a lovely lovely idea to have a 'Snowdrop Party'! Bet they served up.....
snowballs to drink!

Susan McShannon-Monteith said...

Just beautiful Jane.
My paternal ancestors came from the highlands and I often wondered what the seasons must have been like there decades ago...
Your description has taken me back, lost in a long ago time of beauty and seclusion.
Thank you for sharing.
Susan x

Ruthie said...

Oh what a beautiful memory, I loved your story telling x What a beautiful part of the world that was to be in. Coming across expanses of hidden snowdrops is quite magical isn't it, when we first moved up here I was so excited to discover a beautiful bank of them in the nearby woods, and to be able to walk through them with my daughters was a glimmer of magic shining through the wintery days x x