…I will leave for next time.
After cantering around a little to let the horses blow off steam, we began to make our way via a circuitous path that wound its way gradually downward round the bowl created by the encircling hills. We passed the chute, a clear area going straight down the steep hill, down which the felled trees were were sent to the bottom after being dragged into position at the top by teams of horses. Reaching the base we went to the saw pit, or what remained of it; it was mostly filled in by encroaching time. Then our special treat. Nev told us: ‘If I don’t like you this is where we go back, but f I like you I make the ride longer and we go to see Gertrude’s grave. We rode on and there it was, a lonely grave in a lonely spot.
During the nineteen forties a group of soldiers had been billeted in the Bunya Mountains and while there they re-furbished Gertrude’s Grave. They replaced the iron railings around it which were corroded, with new ones, and planted four Bunya pine trees, one on each side. Originally four trees had been planted, one at each corner, but these had begun to decay so were cut down, the tree stumps prohibiting further planting at the corners. We sat quietly, again resting the horses and looking at the grave while Nev told us the story.
In the later part of the nineteenth century many men in Great Britain who were looking for a better life emigrated to Australia, and one such man was from Cornwall. Named Carbonares, he was of a swarthy complexion making him foreign looking, and had a pronounced Cornish accent which made it difficult for others there to understand him. He was an outsider from the start. Never the less, he married, a young woman called Gertrude who, like him, seeking a better life and a husband, had emigrated from the home country specifically to provide a wife for Carbonares. (I regret I never found out his first name so am obliged to use his surname).
All seemed well with the couple, Gertrude became pregnant, but when the time came to give birth the troubles started.
That’s enough for now. More will be revealed next time.
I am intrigued by the way in which words have the power to invoke memories.
My word of the moment is serendipity. I never use it, or hardly ever, but it still recalls both beauty and sadness from a moment when it was used. We had decided to take a horse-ride in the Bunya Mountains in Queensland, Australia and set out with Nev, our guide for the ride, on quiet sure-footed mares, and soon passed a pen in which were four young calves. Nev’s grandchildren had had the privilege of naming them and used serendipity as a base word broken into four, Ser, Ren, Dip, Ity. They were in a pen under virtual guard because of the predacious dingos which Nev told us you never saw, only their work.
We made our way to the top of a mountain, a large hill, really, about 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level, by zig-zagging because it was so steep, and stopped amidst trees to rest the horses. Then, suddenly, a beautiful wedge-tailed eagle rose above the line of the ridge not 30 feet away from us, so close we could see into its eyes as it looked back at us totally unafraid. It was circling upward in an updraught of air and carried on, unperturbed until it disappeared from our view. It was a serendipity moment in a serendipity occasion and comes back to mind because of the children’s use of the word.
That was the beauty; the sadness I will leave for the next time.
Is it just me, or is it normal to be drawn to the place of one’s birth? A few years ago we went to live in Wales (or, Cymru as it is better known to the indigenous people) where I met a man who was born and spent his early years in Cymru, in the beautiful Dyssyni Valley, but who moved to live in Leicestershire for a time, in Husbands Bosworth. We had mutual friends there and it is evident our paths must have crossed but we could neither of us remember it. He told me he wished he could move back from Cymru to Leicestershire which he preferred. How paradoxical! He wanted to live in the county of my birth and I wanted to live in the county of his birth, Gwynedd. Never the less, as Miss Tarbell shows, I am still, myself, drawn to Leicestershire.