The thatch slopes down to overhang the ground floor. An ancient willow grows a few yards away. Its leaves have yet to appear. There are tiny buds on the yellow fronds which cascade from its branches. The tree’s outline is dark against the background of thick, white mist which hides the cricket field, the church and its tower. The mist is dense because the river winds nearby. I wonder which was there first, the willow or the half-timbered house. I won’t call it a cottage. It is a substantial, L -shaped building. Whoever first lived in it must have been a powerful figure.
I am in a car park which is bordered by walls of chunky stones which blend with the grey of the sky. I have come by way of the town hall, where the 19th century clock registers ten to midday. The air is still. There are slippery patches on the cobbles and paving stones where yesterday’s snow has turned to slush. It’s quite warm. People stand around and chat. There is still time for shoppers to chat, here, by the town hall, on this quiet Monday morning.
I’ve a prosaic reason for going into town today. In another, half-timbered building, by the car park where the thatched house sets me dreaming, my osteopath has her practice. People have been born and have died for 400 years in these old houses. My creaky limbs, for which I seek relief here, what do they matter? However long I live, it will be but a blink of an eye in the progress of generations past and to come.
We chat, the osteopath and I, about this. As our linear time shrinks we only have the present moment. In living this to the full I believe we transcend the past and the future. Now is what counts.
And I trust it will redeem the past – the past of myself and my family – and that, in their time, the people who came and went in these old houses, in their turn found resolution of their troubles and worries.
That would include ‘the screws’ as my grandparents described arthritis, I’m sure.
My osteopath and I agreed it was worth doing my exercises to free my aching knees, if only for now.
I would like to explore these old, thatched houses and I would pray for peace for those who lived there over the years.
On my way home I passed an independent butchers and bought a pasty. Best I’ve tasted for years – took me back to my West Country childhood.