Thursday, 26 April 2012

Three births, one death

Two nights ago someone walked past our window just as it was getting dark. This may not seem very peculiar but when you live in the middle of a wood, it's unusual enough to be alarming. Turned out to be our neighbour in search of a torch to help with lambing. Their lovely Gotland ewe was round as a melon and stuck in labour.
A while later I walked down through the inky dark wood, across their paddock shrouded in grey dusk, and came upon a beautiful tableau. The night was closing in, and everything was dark, but in front of their house was a small golden pool of lamplight. In the pool of light, on a bed of hay lay Michelle, huge, serene and woolly. Ruth, our neighbour sat next to her, calmly holding her head.  It was a scene of such timelessness, such serenity, there was an ancient energy of motherhood and love that struck me very deeply.
Lovely as it was for Michelle to be so serene, she was supposed to be in labour.
Help arrived, lurid blue lubricant applied and a scrawny, slimy, hip presenting black lamb was assisted earthside. We were all astonished at the size of the lamb, more like a floppy rabbit than anything else. What about the enormous belly! Was that all?
'Oh that's not all there is,' said the helping farmer. He pulled at another head and a foot.
I'd better leave the second foot, don't think it belongs to this lamb. Goodness! Triplets! Another long floppy black lamb arrived, was unceremoniously swung around in the dark (to clear the airways of mucus) and laid next to Michelle who was alternating between washing the new arrival and giving birth. And then the third. The raw brutality of birth, slime and gore and three floppy black lambs sprawled in the hay. Michelle worked hard, licking industriously..and at last a tinny baaaa from each lamb that melted us all. The slime turned to black curly wool....the enormous legs started the struggle to stand. Three new lambs.
An everyday miracle.

The next day I was on a train crossing the Tamar Bridge between Devon and Cornwall, musing on the possibility of train crashes, and the conductor announced an accident on the line. We stopped, and waited, and waited. The train was emptied and cancelled at Plymouth and we were told there had been a fatality on the line at the next station. My thoughts immediately ran to suicide, (although we were not given any more details) and my throat was dry, my heart fast. How final and quick death is, how commonplace, how shocking, how irreversible.  I wondered who, how, why, if only, what if. Restless people in my carriage started to call home, announcing the delay,  laughing (really)
'Yeah, yeah someone jumped in front of the train, God I'm gonna be so late. It's such a pain....'
Disconnected, desensitized..maybe I'll laugh one day.

Three beginnings. One end.
Peace to them all


  1. Yes, disconnected and desensitized most likely by TV and films - people watch so much pain and destruction that when it happens in real life, they don't truly take it in unless it actually happens to them. I see that our society members are less and less connected to each other and neighbours don't even know each other any more. This loss of connection means that it is easier to forget that every human being has feelings and that we are all connected. So sad that those people laughed at someone's suicide. Just tragic.

    Thank goodness for the triplets!


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