Wednesday, 27 March 2013

FOLKLORIC ~ The Good Shepherds

Photo, The Mirror Newsgroup

Tonight I cannot write of pretty things. It is too cold.

I've lived in London and in remote countryside and loved both ways of life. Cities - endless shops, easy accessibility to all hour food, well lit in the darkest night.  The English countryside is full of green magic, trees, flowers, hedges, gloriously scented and full of wildlife to enchant and educate us. But in winter snow and rain can cut you off from supplies and make roads impossible to navigate. Electricity, water and heating can fail. Those postcard pretty cottages with roses round the door are often freezing in winter as oil runs out, becomes too expensive and the wood pile exhausted. 


a local cottage

Ice hangs upon thatched cottages like the long icy fingers of The Snow Queen.

During hard times it seems trivial to write of luxury which so many do not have time for nor afford.  Beauty cheers us and lifts our spirits, inspiring us to create and share. Constant deprivation wounds us deeply and we withdraw into ourselves, our homes, reaching for the fire.  Gripped in the frosty embrace of a never ending Winter it is hard to summon Hope, but we must.

Winter remains. The usual promise of Spring is with us, woods carpeted in Snow Drops and Daffodil bloom along roadsides. But the sun does not come to melt the snow. Yet Easter is nearly upon us. Whatever your religious beliefs, it is impossible not to feel the sacred in the change of season from Winter to Spring - if only it would come. The stillness upon the land is beautiful - and deadly.

From deeper countryside than where our little cottage nestles came the heartbreaking news stories of sheep frozen under drifts giving birth to lambs. Desperate shepherds are often unable to save them before the freeze takes them where they lay.

The Good Shepherd by Richard Hook

Reporters listen to farmers whisper the realisation that their life as sheep farmers is over, beaten by nature, low prices for their produce and competition in the supermarkets from foreign lamb that can magically be offered cheaper than home grown.  In the future when we drive through English and Irish countryside empty of sheep and sheep dogs will we understand that those inexpensive meals we cooked helped to cause this wasteland?



When we grow up we look back at children's stories and sometimes think them foolish. But who dares laugh now at The Snow Queen who threw Winter over Narnia?

Whether we believe in Christ or not the Shepherd is a folkloric figure. These simple people have something highly mystical about them. Living so close to nature and facing hardships alone.


Illustration by Walter Crane

 It was impossible to watch the news footage of shepherds rescuing what they could of their herds and not shed a tear. Perhaps our tears will melt the snow and bring Spring to resurrect our joy. But for those who have lived through this and lost what they once knew, innocence is gone.

Innocence 1893 by William Adolphe Bouguereau

This Easter is unlike any other which I have ever known. More than ever we require faith, in something, to help us believe that Spring will come. And helping hands and hearts.  If you are in a cold place, help each other to stay warm. Wherever that you are be amongst friends and remember to share whatever each of us have with those who have not. 


Remember our neighbours, family and friends


33 comments:

  1. This is so sad, I am sorry for the situation of the sheep, and their shepherds.My heart hurts to read this.
    I didn't realize that winter is being so harsh and long this year there.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I'm hoping spring will arrive soon, for you.
    Brenda

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  2. Dear Minerva, what you have written is quite beautiful in it's stark realism...it has given me pause, to think beyond my own little sphere of things. I wish you hope and joy in this season of rebirth and renewal, and promise. N.xo

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    1. Nella, Thank you! I love the beautiful magic that you share with your readers and always appreciate your posts. Minerva x

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  3. Your post is very eloquent and touches my heart as I heard about the sheep farms, their financial stress, the frozen sheep, and saw the beautiful paintings of Jesus and of Innocence. Easter will be here soon and that sends us rays of hope and joy.

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    1. Terra, Thank you for those kind comments. I did not wish to depress everyone but I felt I could not write in lightness. Minerva x

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  4. I'm so sorry to read about the terrible winter - it will surely go down in history as one of the worst in memory. I hope you are warm and safe and have a full pantry!

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    1. Thank you for stopping with those warm wishes Pondside, our heating is simple but we are all snug with lots of Easter chocolate (!) and the cats are wrapped in their old patchwork blankets by the fire. Minerva x

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  5. Ooh hello.....This post is so close to my heart....Before I posted a light hearted sort of post...I was pondering on voicing a Shepard and his flock type of post for Easter...I actually was looking through my old Sunday school books from 1971 ....Where I won the price from the group of the most beautiful book on Blackie... the lost little sheep!( I was 6 years old) the lambs and the farmers have been in my prayers each and every night....and my Easter treat will be to take a walk hope fully to see the new born...We are lucky here as the snow has melted and all though bitterly cold....we have sunshine this morning! Sending you Easter blessings and thanking you for this most worthy post.....where you have thought so kindly of others....Keep cosy....Love Maria x

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    1. Maria, Thank you for your comments, I know that you understand the situation well as you have a kind heart. Minerva x

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  6. I just saw on the paper that this weather would continue until the end of April. I hope not!I'm pretending we live in Narnia reigned by the White witch. : ) Off to the unheated studio. We share a little fan heater I brought from home. Yes, sharing and caring become important. Walter Crane is one of my favourite illustrators! A lovely tree he drew!

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    1. Midori, That mean White Witch is so evil! I also work in the cold, and will be thinking of you while I am wearing so many layers of clothes. We have to laugh at how funny we all look, no glamour there I think! Glad you like Walter Crane, I love him too. Minerva ~

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  7. So sad. I can not imagine. A horrible winter in so many places and my heart breaks for the animals and the shepherds. In my part of the world, it is drought...drought that has cattlemen selling their herds as there is no feed. Drought ... the rice fields are no more. Blessings to us all.

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    1. Snap, Nature has not been kind to many of us for awhile now. I guess it is acting back after man has done such harm to the Earth. I hope you get your rainfall, I hate to imagne rice fields gone. And blessings back to you. Minerva x

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  8. Minerva,
    I felt so sad to hear the news about sheep, shepherds and farmers. I do pray Spring Goddess will visit your country with warm breezes and melt deep snow as soon as possible.
    In Japan there are similar problems about food. Cheap imported food has been driving out some Japanese agricultural products. In near future, what will happen to our table?
    Have a wonderful week!
    keiko

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    1. Snow, The problems seem to be everywhere, and my heart is heavy. But Spring will come, and Summer will follow. Thank you for stopping here. Minerva x

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  9. What a beautiful and heartfelt post. The thought of those poor animals trapped in the snow is utterly heartbreaking, as if the poor farmers don't have it tough enough as it is. xxx

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    1. Vix, You always cheer me up so, and I do really love your rebuttal to the Wicked Snow Queen by wearing your floaty white chiffon in the snow. Bliss! We will fight back ..... Minerva x

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  10. Dear Minerva,
    so depressing to see ice and snow - lovely as such - ruin the existence of farmers. I thought about that too: things so cheap - the price, even of fair-trade, is not possible, and sometimes I think we are spoilt rotten. Of course I like to have luxury, who wouldn't, but I try to keep it as that: not all the time easy to get. No strawberries in February or March.
    I do hope that the weather will change after Easter - till then they told us we can search for Easter eggs in snow... But anyhow: I wish you a Happy Easter!

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  11. Brigitta, Wise words! Thank you for these. Happy Easter to you and yours also. Minerva x

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  12. Thank you all for reading this post, and for taking the time to leave us the uplifting comments. My heart is a little broken at the moment at the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves. Sometimes I do believe that sorrow shared can help to heal the world. This morning we had a lot of sunshine and when the snow had melted here I found that underneath it were beautiful scented Crocus in the softest creamy white, and rich yellow and purple. Nature does find a way.
    Minerva x

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  13. Hello my dear. I wanted to email you but you still come up as "no reply comment." Perhaps by choice? if not, please consider putting your email IN your profiel so that people like me can reply to your comments.You left me two and I cannot reach you via email :D

    This is a lovely post and I was saddened to hear of this winter tragedy. No news of it reached over here, that I saw.

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  14. Minerva,
    I have just read your last reply here, regarding the crocuses.
    It's good to hear that soon the temperature will warm up there, and yes it will hopefully ease some of the sadness.
    Nature can be healing.
    However, I think you are so right, that sharing the sad, difficult things is as important, as sharing the good. It can help oneself, and ease some of the sadness, and it's also good to make others aware of something they may not otherwise have known. I didn't know about this situation, living here in Canada.It connects us, and makes our world smaller when we share.
    BTW, I also wanted to say what a visual treat it is to visit here, I really like what you do here.
    Happy Easter, Minerva!
    Brenda

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  15. Hope spring will arrive soon Minerva! It's still cold in Holland as well, but there is the promise of sunshine soon :-)

    Have a lovely Easter!

    Madelief x

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  16. It was awful watching the news and seeing these farmers on their bellies digging up all the snow and pulling out dead or dying sheep and what for me was heartbreaking was that these sheep were lambing. Very sad.

    Wishing everyone a peaceful Easter. Take care
    x

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  17. Happy Easter !

    Bonne semaine!!

    xxx Maria xxx

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  18. I'm in love with your header. Love the photo with the black cat. It' so mysterious yes so fashion. Thanks for the Easter post and feel free to drop by me too when you have time.

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  19. The photos of farmers digging out their livestock have reached all the way over to San Diego, CA. Winter storms this year have been one after another. I hope, pray that the farmers can continue.

    I love your site.

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  20. I was horrified to read that 5000 people had died of the cold in March in the UK. It has been a terrible season, more brutal because it has been drawn out and many people can't afford to heat their homes for 3 months never mind 6 cold months. Still, I'd love to stay in the country if I was safe and warm.

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  21. Oh I am all for treats in grey weather! A spot of luxury is inordinately cheering in bleak times. Not too much though otherwise it stops being uxury and becomes everyday and loses its power .....

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  22. Oh Minerva, a very insightful post. I hope the healing warmth of wonderful sunny Spring days finds you soon.

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  23. It reminds me of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book The Long Winter. I was reading that book to my children, snuggled cozily on the sofa though it was winter for us, too, as we read. The Ingallses and we can know, because of how God keeps the world running in order, that Spring and Summer WILL come, though one begins to wonder irrationally....
    One friend in Montana just had inches of snow, which they are grateful for, because it is water, after all, on the dry prairie. And my daughter every year in her cold climate tries not to be downhearted waiting for warmth.
    I love that photo of the sheep in the snowy shed!
    Thank you for the hope and reminders.

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