Thursday, 29 August 2013

Time Slips By

Last week I attended the funeral of the mother of an old girlfriend, I have known both since 1966 and the old girlfriend still remains a life-long friend and so it meant a lot to be there. The funeral was different, at the mother's request it was a "Natural Funeral", set among orchards, grassy fields and tiny lanes at the Deerton Natural Burial Site, nr. Teynham.
It was a very warm and sunny day and as the service took place in an open-sided marquee alongside the burial field, two Buzzards circled overhead mewing plaintively and Swallows sped by heading south - time, wildlife and people were slipping by together.

In keeping with the naturalness of the occasion, the coffin was of a bio-degradable material, coloured green and featured on both sides, beautiful paintings of Blackbirds, Goldfinches and Redpolls, it looked quite remarkable. The family took turns at quoting their memories of the lady and playing favourite songs and then we all followed the coffin into the burial site alongside, a field of wild flowers and grasses, dotted at various points with shrubs or young trees that marked the site of previous burials. Here, as we stood around the graveside in this almost overgrown meadow, butterflies, bees and wild birds moved around us under the blue skies and it all seemed so remarkably apt. A small tree will be planted on the grave and then apparently the site will be allowed to re-grass over, leaving just the tree as it's marker. Possibly not most people's idea of how a burial should be conducted or marked but the longer that I have thought about it the more I have warmed to the idea.

The farmland on Harty has been very busy this last week or so as crops have been harvested, straw baled and stacked and fields now harrowed ready to be sown with next year's crops. Summer is also slipping by now and with autumn approaching the signs are all around. Wheatears have begun appearing on the reserve as they make their way south, the swallows hardly tarry now and simply speed by and most of the butterflies have disappeared. In the corn stubble the Greylag Geese numbers continue to increase as they feast on the spilt corn and they in turn, remind me that Sunday will see the start of the shooting season, although wildfowl numbers are currently very low. Teal are the only ducks that are being recorded in +50 numbers on the reserve, a lot to do with the water levels I imagine, the ditches are very low, very stagnant and can be smelt all round the reserve. I will be out at first light on Sunday morning to evaluate what shooting interest that there is alongside the reserve and on Harty in general, but I'll be surprised if it amounts to much.

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