Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho,It’s Back To Work We Go! Some with a heavy heart but most I’m fairly sure with a sense of relief that it’s all over for another year as some sort of mantle of reality drops back onto our shoulders.
For some that will start with the morning commute from a railway station where the inevitable delays and niggles will have been made worse by the lasting effects of the flooding in so many parts over the previous weeks. For others it will be a drive along clogged roads to an office somewhere where someone will be tasked with that most depressing of jobs – taking down the decorations.
It’s a job I hate to do here on the farm. Our ancient farmhouse looks so good decorated in naturalistic style and we always have plenty of twinkly lights to add to the greenery. We live in a profoudly dark sky place and the extra lights here are a way of shouting out defiance to the darkness which surrounds our farm for so many months. Without our extra Christmas lights the place seems suddenly bare and the dark so much more powerful. Part of the Christmas story is that Jesus is born as the Light of the World and the powerful imagery surrounding this must have been a very practical comfort to generations of country folk.
The greenery too is a comforting celebration of our pagan roots and our strong links with the land which still supports our daily need for food and increasingly, recreation. Take away the Christmas tree and The Holly and the Ivy and for most people that symbolic link with the earth is broken for another year.We of course are fortunate to have holly, ivy AND the running of the deer here on the farm all year round.
It’s no wonder so many people find this a very difficult time of year.There is still a long slog before Spring arrives. Bills have to be paid, decisions pondered over Christmas have to be made or acted upon and for us farmers, we still have the worst of winter ahead of us and several months of hard physical labour feeding animals in tough conditions.
So how to cope I wonder? Well, as I strawed up a new section of barn for my goats yesterday and watched 200 animals pour into a playground of crisp clean barley straw and have a wonderful time munching and skipping around, I reminded myself that the simplicity of the animals is something we can learn from. They remember bad experiences but don’t dwell on them, they remember GOOD experiences and try to replicate them and they value their place in community. However humble the goat’s position in the flock, it becomes very distressed when separated from the others – even if its role is to be “the goat the others love to hate”.
Goats are not philosophers and nor am I but it seems to me, if we watch and learn from the animals that share our lives we can see ways of dealing with our own problems. Simple thoughts worth considering as we face whatever 2013 will bring each of us.
A Happy New Year to you all.