We parked away from the main car park on our last visit to Lanhydrock, opting instead for the smaller and nearer car park at Respryn.
It was a sparkling bright winter’s day. The holly was polished to perfection and there were robins in abundance. This bold little fellow caught my eye.
Walking on a wide, flat path has become a welcome novelty. We enjoyed striding out for a while rather than ploughing up hill and down dale. I did keep stopping though: even with no flowers to distract me there was plenty to appreciate. This tree was riveting. Such texture.
Maybe a mile from the car park was a notice requesting that dogs be kept on leads as ahead, off the main path, was a pond dedicated to wildfowl. I had to investigate.
And this is what we found.
The photo doesn’t do it justice. A timeless landscape: bathed in green light and enveloped in stillness. Primordial, with its lichen and tangled tree trunks stretching over the water. The algae is encased in ice: frozen in time.
We were no more than a few hundred yards from a bright and busy winter afternoon and had stepped into a different land.
There was not a fowl to be seen. But out of sight of the muddy path, and held firm in the soft ground, there were some flowers. They were plastic – artificial: alien in this quiet and eerie place where nature was in her ascendancy even amid the decay.
Pastel-hued, plastic hellebores had no place here yet it felt quite wrong to disturb them. I was in a public space, trespassing on another’s private moment. The flowers had been left for a reason; they were meaningful and personal to someone. Who had placed them here? How long ago? It seemed to me they must be seasonal: a Christmas offering maybe, in the way one might leave flowers on a grave. A memorial to someone who perhaps had loved this place – and had in turn been loved by another who cared enough to return bearing fabricated flowers that would withstand the elements for much longer than their real counterparts. If I visit again, will they still be there? I was gazing through a tiny window into an unknown life, seeing just the smallest fraction of what lay beyond, pondering questions that will not be answered.
There are human stories everywhere. Some give up their secrets in a heartbeat. Others remain a mystery. Turning away, I returned to the robins in the sunshine and the unclothed treetops bathed in gold and reflected for a while on the lives playing out around me. We intersect, but how rarely we connect.
A short while later and we arrived at the gatehouse entrance to the Alice in Wonderland gardens around the house itself, which last autumn had delighted me with their geometric eccentricity.
What’s this? A formal display of early tulips?
No. Standing stiffly to attention, no doubt at carefully measured distances neighbour from neighbour: more artificial flowers. Rows of baubles on sturdy metal stems, as unnatural and as foreign as the christmas roses.
The indecorous hellebores had made me wonder. The zany tulips made me smile.
And each will stand silent: patiently withstanding the elements and awaiting the arrival of warmer, calmer, more peaceful climes.
Writing now, I want to make a connection with the discord and disarray we are seeing daily on our screens: with the lives in limbo; with the lives shattered by the actions of those far-removed from the human consequences of the decisions they take. But the words elude me and perhaps that’s how it should be. I shall continue with what I’ve generally done when writing here: capture my impressions of a fleeting moment in my safe and secure corner of the world. I shall reflect on the beauty, the joy and the goodness around me. I shall be grateful and I shall remember.
I am struck by this poem.
“You Reading This, Be Ready”
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life––
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?