Friday, June 13, 2008

The MAY Ewe - Croft Castle – Herefordshire

Tuesday May 27, 2008:

After several days of relentless downpour, the rain had finally abated. I’d gone to Herefordshire in spite of the chaos slowly manifesting in my professional life resulting from recent regime change in London. I was pursuing peace in which to decide what on earth to do next! I was grateful therefore to damply squelch across the sodden ground on a humble search for ancient oak trees.

The sky was low but unthreatening, the ground beneath our feet muddy. Climbing over a rain slimed wooden gate, we entered a field of cows. AS we moved through them they turned to follow us, peeing as they walked – a sure sign, so my companion said that they were a bit agitated by our presence.

High on a hill with the dark hedge framed green countryside spread below us; we sat down to appreciate the hawthorn –for it was still that time of year. I smiled to think of the hawthorn’s association with the beginning of summer, for this day was more like a damp autumn day. Still, the vegetation smelled sweet and the hawthorn bush under which I sheltered obligingly scattered raindrops upon my head as though in benediction.
Hidden in the shadows at the edge of the field, I sat and waited. A long time ago, a bright fire danced merrily. It was so hot that my face grew hot and even though I sat on the damp ground, I was warmed through by its great heat. In time, came the dancers, shadows shifting, looming and diminishing, moving faster and faster around the flickering fire. From the dark hawthorn’s shelter, I watched, pleased to be on the margins, appreciative of the energy being raised by the dancers. In time, the dancing stop, the figures merged into the shadows and the fire died down, fading as the dawn light crept into the eastern sky.

The sun was rising behind the hedge. Golden drops glistened on the dew wet leaves. All along the hedgerows, white blossoms trailed a dancing journey. The may had definitely skipped her way across the countryside during the night.

Backlit by the sun’s first rays, she stood against the hedge, her leaf green dress toning softly with the darker green of the leaves. Her hair, white and curled, gilded with gold, was garlanded with pure white blossoms and framed a face shadowed and unknowable. I knew that she was beautiful.

She moved, and came to stand in front of me as I sat under the tree. I looked up and saw a face, not a woman’s after all, but the mild eyed stair of a calm ewe, her silver white hair, her curling fleece, and her curving ewe’s horns peeping out from amongst the crown of May blossoms she wore. Serene and still, she was magnificent. I was transfixed.

Time past. We stared at each other. Thoughts danced in and out of my mind, but I was barely conscious of anything but her. What was she? Who was she? She had a woman’s strong yet feminine body with the face and head of a ewe. She seemed regal with her crown of May and yet humble with those quiet ewe’s eyes and simple ewe’s face.

And as the sun rose higher in the sky and I turned momentarily to follow the sound of a fluting blackbird, she was gone. Across the hill, the breeze danced, catching at the hawthorn bower above my head and I was sprinkled once more with cool raindrops. I reached up and plucked a spray of leaves, pausing to remove the sheep’s wool wrapped around the stem, popping them in my mouth and chewing thoughtfully.

I rose and bowed to the hawthorn, and then to the place where she had been. All hail, the May Ewe, she who skips like a spring lamb across the country, scattering the hedgerows in May blossom, I prayed. She is the herald of summer, the harbinger of the greening time when all is fertile, when everything reaches out to the life giving sun in sheer joy of life. Perhaps one day, I too would feel the sun in my heart again. Then my summer would come skipping along. But right now, I needed to wait, just wait and think.


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