I came across a beautiful gatepost today, crafted not just to carry the weight of a gate, but something rather handsome too. It was hewn from the lovely soft blush pink gritstone that can be seen in many of the very old houses around here, the quarries it came from, long since worked out and disused. It’s a precious stone to those of us who live within its walls.
I’ve tried to imagine what it was like as the troops started to come home. To a landscape that had changed forever. And wondered what those who came home, brought home with them.
Memories so horrific, that they could never be spoken of, so horrific that they haunt the subconscious twenty four hours a day. Shattered lives, broken bodies and minds, the camaraderie of shared experiences, disbanded.
Flowers of remembrance, Flanders Fields Museum Ypres Belgium
We went to the local park, its a memorial park, with a war memorial, we gathered round at 11am, for an act of remembrance and of course two minutes silence. The rain stopped, a wind shook the trees, and a drifts of amber coloured beech leaves drifted down on us, it was easy to think of them as poppy petals.
It was special, and a lot of people had worked very hard to make it so. As just a few weeks a go a mighty oak had fallen and smashed the memorial, it was quickly made safe and temporary repairs put in place (fortunately they panels inscribed with names, survived the impact).
There has been a lot to learn about the Great War. I’ve been discussing and reading about how those grieving (and there can’t be many who weren’t) coped in the aftermath of WWI. It seems that it many ways, open display of grief was suppressed as it seemed like the only way of coping. Maybe its something we’ve made a habit of?
It made me think of the other fallen oak I’d seen this year, in the Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres
The dark stains are caused by the wounds of war
I’ve heard grief described like this, as rings within a tree, grief is not something that goes away, or is ‘got over’; its wounds stay there, inside, time passes, but the wounds, like in the damaged rings of this tree, are there, deep within and hidden from view, but always there.
Lest we forget.
It was almost by chance we saw the installation of poppies at the Tower of London that marked the hundredth anniversary of the start of WWI, they both moved us and captured our imagination,
we managed to buy a poppy, and plant it on the map, just one of the 888,246 poppies that were made
It was the start of a journey, that amongst other things led us to visit Ypres in Belgium and listen to the last post at the Menin Gate We saw so many young people there, so important.
Some of the poppies were retained from the tower, and have been exhibited around the country. We’ve managed to catch up with them in a couple of locations.
Here at Carlisle Castle, the number of poppies here are roughly the same as the number of men who signed up to serve in the war,
within these walls, and never returned.
to the city and surrounding villages.
Lest we forget.