March 2010

There is a sparse hanging wood on the far side of the little gothic house at Seven Barrows. It looks so frail and spindly, the branches of the beeches spread out like seaweed in a pool, the paths between defined by the remnants of snow caught in the declivities. Deer slots are threaded along them. There’s an overwhelming serenity in the delicate spareness of it all.

Back home, the church bells are filling the sky again. I am standing by the gate and calling “ coop coop” to the grey mare in the field. Time evaporates and I can hear our children calling out the same strange mantra to their ponies in the field beside the river Marden when they were my whole world. Now the children are gone and have made new lives for themselves. I am left in the field alone calling “coop coop” like the abandoned heroine in Princes in the Land. I seem to have come full circle back to when I was nine years old and standing in the drizzle trying to catch my pony Dirk. Lily ambles towards me . I am looking forward to the familiarity and the trust I shall build up with her. This is an infant relationship. More and more I am my mother. I nestle my face against Lily’s neck.

I ride her up past the barns to far off fields where deer are liable to jump out from the hedge and the London to Cornwall trains streak by on the embankment. We stand and watch one. Sometimes when I am on a train, I see a rider like me, stranded in a field, and get taken into another world. It feels good to be here alone with Lily, talking to her and trying to create a companionship.

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