Monday, 21 November 2016

All downhill....(no, not me, now ;)

The other day I was investigating on the internet to see if I could find my Grandmothers house, (the one who was a teacher), and surprised myself in a big way.  I found the house and it looks exactly the same.  Even down to the colour of the front woodwork and the black paint on the garage doors.  I can't believe it, it must be 57 years since I last saw it!  I was expecting to see the windows all changed and extensions etc after such a long long time.  But there it was, and I was transfixed just gazing at it.  I had actually begun my search to see if I could trace a pathway I used to ride through the fields when I was ten and allowed sometimes to borrow my Aunt's bicycle.

Can you remember when you were ten and  coasting down a hill on your bike?....

I'm pretty sure this is the track I was looking for.  In the summer those bushes closed over the top and formed a kind of tunnel, mysterious, yet kind of foreboding, exciting.  Trees were festooned with Oak-apples, and the sun would dance about like a flash-light being switched on, then off, off then on, as you whizzed past ever downwards into the increasingly inky black darkness awaiting to engulf you at the bottom.

Sometimes at night now when I've gone to bed and lie in the darkness I'm riding the bike again.  But instead of going down the hill path I've taken a right turn, skirting the corn and barley fields, and I've reached the unmanned level-crossing for the goods train.  In the dead of night I used to hear the mournful tooting of the little train as it approached the crossing whenever I stayed with Nannie. STOP.  LOOK.  LISTEN. Warned the black and white sign beside the line, encouraging all to stay alive.  How swiftly I'd run across wondering how it might be possible to miss anything as large and loud on such a straight stretch of line.  But then I'd cycle slowly onward through the sleepy summer afternoon quiet, between hedges where blue butterfly's fluttered and Lords and Ladies nestled in the long grass verge like jewelled fairies,startlingly red, and somehow a kind of hush and stillness descended, when all that could be heard would be the trembling rise of the skylark high up, a black dot amongst the sunny clouds, and the rustling of the leaves, and opening up beside me to the right, there was the farmyard.
A moment.......
An awareness of time-slipping.  The farm dog sleeping in his old kennel, his chain rattling slightly against the wood, all the hens and ducks out together in the yard, lazy clouds of summer grey dust disturbed by their feet.  The farmhouse door stands ajar.  Inside the sound of someone moving, a flash of white and then nothing.  It's as though I have slipped through a hole in time.  Everything around suspended.  A strange ethereal feeling.  Then suddenly the sound of a woman singing.  The notes rising and falling, dancing across the sunlit fields and lanes.

'Lean out of the window
For I heard you singing 
a merry air

My book is closed;
I read no more,
Watching the fire dance
On the floor.

I have left my book;
I have left my room,
For I heard you singing 
Through the gloom.

Singing and singing
A merry air,
Lean out of the window,

James Joyce

(Sincere apologies to whomever these photographs belong...The only references I can find is Panoramio, and eddie.g4ppb.
I will remove the said photos immediately if you require me too.  In the meantime, a "Big Thank" you for taking them in the first place and enabling me to return to that precipitous pathway)


Splenderosa said...

Oh, your writing is so wistfully beautiful. And, how I've missed you here on the blog. It sounds as though you're doing well, my friend. It is the holiday time beginning with Thursday, Thanksgiving, and for all of us it begins the Christmas holidays. The happiest time of the year for most of us. I remember my grandmother, the most important woman in my life, all the time. Everything she did seemed so important to me. And, it was and still is. Warm happy wishes to you.

WOL said...

What a beautifully evocative memory. The house where my parents were living when I was born is gone. The house we lived in when we first moved to the town where I live now is gone. The house where I lived at age 10 is still there, as is the next house we lived in (my mom still lives there). My grandmother's house is gone, but the house she was born in (in 1886, no less) is still there, and my mom and I spent the night there. An apartment building where I lived for almost 21 years is gone. I was forced to move because the building was being demolished to make way for a freeway. (I lived there longer than I've lived any other place in my life.) I strongly associate my feelings about that, which were bittersweet, with this song.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

You were so lucky to find those photographs Jane .... I'm often looking for images of my childhood and often don't come up with anything !! ... and, how refreshing that your Grandmother'ss house is still pretty much the same ..... I'm sure that that doesn't happen very often in this day and age !!! My Grandmother's house is still there and my old doctors house which was a large Edwardian house, is too .... the doctor would often be eating sardines on toast for his tea during the appontment and he would escort you out through the large conservatory, chatting about this and that whilst about 20 or so patients were waiting in the waiting room !!!!! What a lovely post Jane. Sending love from Hertfordshire. XXXX

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Hello WOL, thanks for coming by. I hope you return and read this. Your blog disappeared from my sidebar and I can't comment back, I'm sorry, but thank you so much for your lovely words and link!


Ps. I emailed. Hope all is well?

WOL said...

Here's another link, assuming Blogger's spam filter doesn't decide it's spam.