THE OWLDownhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;Cold, yet had heat within me that was proofAgainst the North wind; tired, yet so that restHad seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.All of the night was quite barred out exceptAn owl’s cry, a most melancholy cryShaken out long and clear upon the hill,No merry note, nor cause of merriment,But one telling me plain what I escapedAnd others could not, that night, as in I went.And salted was my food, and my repose,Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voiceSpeaking for all who lay under the stars,Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.”
Tag Archives: drink
I read recently of a Christian community that starts the count down to Christmas 100 days out. I can’t help feeling they may lose some of what we should observe and celebrate during those three months. Here in England that includes Harvest and All Saints. For Catholic Christians the discipline of the season’s readings bring us to the final feast of Christ the King.
But there are preparations that do begin in September or October. Mrs T has made but not decorated the cake; N the pudding, while I began the sloe gin which is slowly(!) turning red and fruity.
Sloe gin essentially is foraged sloes – pierced with a fork, sugar and gin sealed in a Kilner jar which has to be shaken frequently; I’ll do it in a minute. If we were Anglicans, we would have been stirred, not shaken, on that last Sunday in November:
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Plenteous fruit was stirred into many a Christmas pudding that day!
There’s plenteous fruit in our cake and our pudding, and plenty in the sloe gin. Maybe we’ll take a sip at Christmas, while the sloes themselves will make a fine marinade for the family meal.
And may we bring forth plenteous good works this Christmas, whether we are shaken or stirred as we go through Advent!
This story turned out not to be about a beggar, but I have since seen the same woman walking by, talking to herself, but always wearing clean clothes. The last in this short season.
It was high summer, and what T and I saw lying on the grass was not a broken branch but a woman, who we thought might have been broken. More than once I have seen drunk and incapable people lying next to the cycle path. There was cause for concern.
T and I were indeed concerned but hesitated to approach the woman. She was warm and in a safe place after all. I said I would see if she was still there when I walked the dogs, Ajax and Alfie.
She was still there, but before we had done our round of the park, the Cathedral bell, Great Dunstan, announced five o’clock. The lady sat up, gathered her belongings and walked away.
T laughed when I told her the next day. It’s good when your fears are shown to be groundless. And no need to see the lady home, which would have been a challenge with two chihuahuas!
Thanks to NAIB for the photograph.
The BBC Website includes a section on The People’s War, memories of the conflict from all over the world. It is worth visiting to learn how bad and how good people can be in times of stress, conflict and danger.
George Nolan Johnston was in the British army in the Middle East, sent on a long and apparently pointless journey culminating in a crowded train with no opportunity to get food or drink. Did the officer who organised it not know the men could not get food, or did he just not care?
Here is an extract from Mr Nolan Johnston’s story, but do read the rest of it.
We arrived at a way-side station in the sand. A fleet of trucks waited for us, we were transported some miles west into the sun, and dumped on the side of a desert road. Our patch was beside an east-west tarmacadam road bordered to the North and South with sand. The patch was equipped with open ablutions and latrines. We had neither food nor tents.
Shortly after we arrived a dispatch rider arrived on a motorbike. He bore a message from the officer in charge of the next camp, which was a mile up the road. If we cared to walk up, he would supply us with tea and sandwiches, he apparently had been similarly dumped a week prior to us. We were really starving so we queued up with our tummies rumbling and mugs at the ready. The last few yards were torture and when we got a full mug of sweet tea and a large thick corned beef sandwich, we thought we were set. Never before or since have I enjoyed anything better. We were so very much grateful to the unknown officer.
Compassion, imagination and sharing.