Sunday, May 03, 2009
Great fat raindrops are spattering off the leaves above. All around the quiet people sleep. Ten minutes walk away below is the city of Bath but I can’t see this. I have landed in the early morning in a hidden coombe, a treasure in this essentially English countryside. On the other side of this small green valley is a farm that I worked on thirty years past when I was another person in another life.
Back then I was just out of college, perhaps twenty years old. Making my own way through the austerity of the late seventies I was working at the time as a farm hand for hire. I was working to prepare the farm for auction, laying out the machinery in the field, making sure the gates and hedges were stock proof and tidying up around the buildings and yards. I was working for the daughter of a farmer who had died the year before.. I don’t fully remember the circumstances but it was time for them to sell up. Sad for the family that were leaving the little charmed corner, but for me a week or two of charmed sunshine in a rural idyll. A time in the company of the farmers daughter as well, a beauty in her early twenties who seemed to enjoy me being there….
Then at the end of it, one of the turning points in life that I have always wondered about. At the auction itself there was a tractor and trailer for sale. A Massey Ferguson 135 and a medium sized wooden pull along with high sides, both in reasonable condition. Riding a motorbike from job to job I gave serious consideration to buying them. Reasoning that in this type of work it would be a real asset to me. I would be able to bring along my own wire and fence posts to the next job. Shift gravel and cement more easily. Haul wood away from the tree that needed tidying. But in the end I didn’t. I had in mind about two hundred and fifty pounds and the pair sold for three hundred. I moved on and temped my way north to a car factory and then to the area I have lived in ever since and eventually became a teacher.
And here I am again. Up before the world and crossing the church yard, taking shelter from the rain under this tree. The wild garlic scents the air and all is green and as it should be. Here is Peter at his rest, a friend I never knew, and I am slightly disturbed to be reminded that he died younger than I am now.
I thank him for that time then, I thank him for the time now, and walk on.