That the countryside is punctuated with quaint idyllic wonder, is overstated.
For those who survive on the other side of here, we as strangers have our
illusory perceptions of blissful self-sufficiency.
But seeing is not everything.
Our aspirations would be dashed if we were to live amongst its people.
A young couple is putting seed potatoes into the friable soil, hoping for a taste of the earth.
Storms have been forecast for later today, so they've been up since first light -
racing against Nature.
Their widowed Mother strains to watch them from the farmhouse window.
Oblivious to black clouds gathering in the distance.
She can just make them out, backs bent, next to their loaded basket.
Her husband, long gone, left her with empty hands to fill, so she's grateful at her age to be of some use to her family, minding their baby, just a few months old, cherishing it as if it were her own.
At midday, she settles the baby in its pram and begins to sing softly,a lullaby
she remembers singing to her daughter years ago, aware of how rusted her voice
has become, though her audience of one doesn't seem to mind.
As baby's eyes begin to close, she tiptoes to the kitchen to prepare bread and soup for the hungry planters, then taking a a final peek at the sleeping child, pulls on her boots and sneaks out.
In the yard there are pigs.
Solid, rounded brutes, ready for slaughter.
A little afraid, she moves between them, still humming the lullaby – just to feel safe.
Once in the field, she closes the gate behind her, as though it was the final chapter in a book.
In the narrow field, her vision allows her a clearer view of her daughter and husband,
so she walks a little quicker, eager for adult conversation.
As she reaches them, they are sitting side by side on a convenient stone, both straight-backed, looking rather like a Henry Moore sculpture she thinks. They've been bent over for too long.
Sipping on the hot soup, it's as if they've forgotten how to talk – they're so exhausted.
But she understands, she knows how hard it can be.
Once you're committed to the countryside, there's no escape.
Life's like that.
A sudden gust moves the heavy clouds closer. She can smell rain coming.
Maybe there'll be enough to raise the first green shoots.
A distant rumble of thunder decides for her that she should go back to the house
so they can finish the planting.
As she reaches the gate, the wind gathers speed, bringing with it a heavy downpour.
She's glad she's wearing her boots.
At the house she finds the door already open where the damp wind has muddied the quarries.
Further into the storm-dimmed hallway, she senses an atmosphere of ruin -
a kind of emptiness breathing in a dead space.
And from the violated air, a chill freezes her heart with a fearful silence.
The pigs, the terrible pigs......
Her eyes fix on the pram, tipped on its side,
its white covers ribboned with flesh and blood,
and one wheel spinning, its rhythm gently slowing for the final lullaby.
It seems that the sound of the storm is leaving the field, soon to burst through the open door
of the first chapter in a different story.
When the madness of country life turns against you, the unseen future comes quickly.
And the past forever gone, lingers to torment the soul with stories
that have no endings.
copyright © Caroline Grace 2013