One year ago

A friend sent me a picture of the boys making hay a year ago. There was no pandemic, no furlough and there was a sunny window of opportunity between weddings. So we made hay. While the sun shone. Although it looks overcast and brooding in the photo.

Our first guests arrive tomorrow. It’s been like a March pre-season flurry of busyness, only it’s mid-July. Some of the activity has been the usual stuff – bringing yurts and their contents out of their winter hibernation, putting them up, re-waterproofing them and getting them ready them for occupation. But there have been processes to document, forms to fill in. A lot of paperwork. Added to this has been the return to part-time work of a few of the team, and introducing them to the way things have to be done now. The new normal which is anything but normal. It seems sad that we have to pare down what we provide in accommodation, prune it right back. No frills this season.

There’s been productive busyness down the lane. My daughter’s hive was overpopulated. Just before the weekend, her beekeeping mentor visited and helped her to set up a second hive.

There are 44 big round wrapped bales waiting to be taken away. This strange year, we decided to sell hay off the field, rather than deal with it ourselves. Three fields were cut and I think they’ve made haylage.

I’m a romantic. I confess it freely. I love the scent of fresh hay and the look of the small rectangular bales stacked high in a barn. The job has been done anyway. These bales will be gone soon.

Hope is the thing with…

Not feathers. Whatever Emily Dickinson wrote. I’m not a fan of feathers. Substitute leaves for feathers.

Under normal circumstances, we’d be hosting weddings right now. But circumstances aren’t normal. Spring weddings have been postponed, some to later in the year and others to next year. It’s not possible to predict how and when we’ll be released from lockdown, what will happen with the social distancing rules, when there’ll be a vaccine…

‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.’ Audrey Hepburn said that. To plan a wedding is also to believe in tomorrow, in the future. Leaving aside arranged marriages and dynastic couplings,  a wedding is about stating in front of witnesses, whether that’s just one celebrant, (as was the case here in January), or two registrars and two hundred guests, that you love each other and want a shared future.

A wedding is – stripped to its core – about saying it aloud, about intention and about hope.

There’s a lot of gardening going on right now, from repotting a single houseplant to digging new vegetable beds and to larger polytunnel and greenhouse projects. A lot of this is motivated by staying in and keeping busy, enjoying fresh air and exercise, and some of this is inspired by a wish to be less dependent on the vagaries of supply, to control one’s destiny one leek at a time. But however ungreenfingered you are, there’s a primal human element to this too. Reconnecting with the earth, and doing something positive for the future.

One day, not too far into the future, we’ll be able to hold the weddings of the couples whose plans have been put on hold. In the meantime, maybe some of them are growing things too.