Spring equinox returns, as it invariably does, and I take my customary stroll around the village. Nothing changes, and in the distance I can hear the limestone quarry as it expands toward us. Nothing changes, and the newest of the unsustainable new housing estates is pouring more concrete onto the green fields. Nothing changes, and the Sun shines down on a wonderful part of England, weathering the storms of life in the brewing cataclysm. And since it is still brewing too slowly to alarm most of us, life goes on largely as normal…
That opening paragraph instantly went off at an unintended tangent! Still, I can’t disavow it and I’ll let it stand. What I meant to say was that after many years of planning and preparation, environmental and archaeological investigations and a lot of sweat, we opened up Charfield Burial Ground at Spring Equinox 2012. A delightful place for our dead folk to “relax”, as the nightman once said. Our burial ground is now five years old.
There is little I’ve had a hand in over the years of which I’m more pleased. The Parish Council was about the last thing I would have considered joining back in the post-millennial naughties, except that as a Druid I’d gone to find out how aspirations for meeting the need for local burial space was going, and offered some funding for tree planting and the like from The Druid Network. Soon, I was a councillor, and before long was chairing the thing! It’s been ten years now, since I said yes, and still they let me keep waffling on!
The wildflower area – being half of the site, not currently set aside for burials or scattering of ashes – has been a hard thing to establish. The land is too fertile; the nettles and creeping thistle dense and resistant to all but the strongest chemical treatment (which is definitely not a preferred strategy and we do a lot of hand pulling). Notwithstanding the “unwanted wildflowers”, wildflowers are coming up, in part courtesy of wildflower seed from Friends of the Earth, in part from local volunteers planting yellow rattle and other grass-combative plantings, and in part simply because wildflowers come up, wild. It’s quiet now, in early spring, but there is promise of colour, and scent, and bees.
Our residents all seem content – at least, no body complains… and the area has the most splendidly beautiful outlook, gently sloping toward the Cotswold Escarpment and the rising Sun. Residency is limited to members of the parish or those with strong links to it so we hope – even with the potential huge expansion of the village – that space will remain at least for my lifetime… I got me a plot reserved. Hopefully by the time I need it, we will be interring into the wildflower area, and spreading wildflowers into the grass that encompasses the existing burial plots. I shall melt into this landscape with the musical sound of bird-song and the buzz and fizz of insects about me.
You can see from the photo where the burial ground is in relation to the village (The yellow shows the burial ground. The red sections, by the way, are where development is currently taking place – and bloody more to come!). The walk around the village and past the burial ground is just about three miles. That’s enough for an old fella to walk and still stay smiling…
In the burial ground, sat on a bench dedicated to another Councillor who rests nearby, I’m finding the peace of the moment. There are birds calling to one another in the hedges, and the first of the slow-worms has crawled out of the wet-stone walling to take in some of the morning rays. The snowdrops have gone over, but in the rose garden buds are beginning. Life in death.
Blessings of the Vernal Equinox, when our star crosses the apparent equatorial line and returns to our northern lands. The Sun really does (just about) rise in the East. A time of balance and rebalance. We could use some of that nowadays, eh. Even the weather, today, is neither very wet nor dry, but a balance of damp mist. heh. Not close, this year, to the Moon-defined festival of Easter, but linked to the Saxon festival of the goddess Eostre and her resurrection of the growing year and the imminent fertility of the land (note also the link to fertility in the shared heritage of the hormone word Oestrogen). You can take or leave the idea of deity, but that flaming ball in the sky is on the rise, and the land is waking. Mostly, that’s good enough for me.