Bright Bunting

I’ve been in an air raid shelter. Years ago, in the back garden of the old family house’s elderly next door neighbour – I used to play afternoon Scrabble with her, and she showed me the twisting stairs in the rambling lawn. Down there was the bunker where she had once had to hide.

This week air raid sirens blared again, but in memory rather than anger: Friday saw the 75th anniversary of the end of fighting in Europe. Of course, we are still in lockdown and street parties are impossible. But nothing can stop this village decorating its gardens, or indeed its hall, and the show was bright.

VE Day1

VE Day2

We are only a small community, but we lost 14 men in action during the war – one of whom was given a posthumous Victoria Cross.

I have no bunting, but I did find the right colours, more or less, in a fox pausing by flowers planted in our own uncertain times.

Fox in flowers 7 May 20

And then there was the milkwort: a tiny flower of chalk downland that is as varied as the sky.

It grows on the steep southern flanks of my parish, where fields that have escaped modern agriculture still support a rich tapestry of living things. My maternal grandfather walked there too, and photographed bee orchids.

Family2

He served in Burma as an RAF officer; my paternal grandfather was in France.

Now I am here with my own dog, looking for flowers, tracking foxes, watching the world change. We all know that many difficulties are ahead, but that cannot blind our gratitude that we are at least free to rise to that challenge.

The natural world still breathes. Flowers still grow.

Sunset 16 Apr 20

15 thoughts on “Bright Bunting

  1. Lovely post wth very wise words of gratitude for this time. I really like your photographs, the wild flowers, and especially the fox. That is pure magic! I remember the old Anderson shelters, and many moons ago I used to have to dig them out and dismantle them as part of my job at the time.

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  2. In these challenging times, where most of the news are about counting sick and dead – and political implication of it – the world almost forgot what happened not that long time ago. And that many paid a price for what we have today.

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    1. Yes, an air of complacency has slipped in. But comparing the two crises, one thing that stands out to me is the media. In WWII, the BBC broadcast CS Lewis to keep public morale up. Now, they and other outlets want the public to flap about in panic – and demand answers to things that not a soul on Earth can know. They seldom encourage responsibility and adherence to the rules, they just want people to be stressed and gripped by the coverage. The NY Times said that the UK NHS had been ‘overwhelmed’ a la Italy, and that London was ‘devastated’, which is not true. It’s not even close to being true.

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  3. This was a lovely read, you put lots of work into this and well worth it. As usual your words are moving, the phrases clever. One day we will meet up again.

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  4. I hope we never have a war like that again, but we haven’t really learned enough from it. There is still fighting and posturing going on all over the world. Will we ever get smart? Now we all have a common enemy and it’s a struggle to fight it. Very nice post, Adele. I love the peaceful look of the last picture.

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    1. Thanks Anneli. I guess human nature is still human nature.

      The last photo is from the National Nature Reserve that borders the north of my parish. I’m sure our protected sites system seems very confusing (to most British people, too) but NNRs are basically highly protected areas which are open to the public and support scientific research. I guess a bit like Canadian national parks. What we call ‘national parks’, e.g. Yorkshire Dales, are more focussed on landscape conservation although they do of course have a lot of wildlife too.

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    1. Thanks Lynette. We have a very active local history group of volunteers here which helps 🙂 Every road corner, every footpath has its story. The church is the oldest building here but we also have two houses which date from the 1300s.

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  5. Adele, fine words and images in memory of all those brave people that were involved. The previous generation of my family were all involved. They are all gone now, but I will remember for them!

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