Good Morning

I decided to take a walk through the village yesterday, just half an hour, in the surroundings. I had  been warned by various articles in the local newspaper and by Mr. Swiss that things are changing in the village. We are under siege from the state road repair service. It has been decided that our road surfaces are no longer coping with the increasing traffic, although our motorway has been extended to shorten journeys and to relieve the pressure of traffic in the quiet Swiss villages – go figure.

Building in Feldbrunnen 18.06 (3)The first thing I saw was this barrier on the opposite path to my home. You can walk through of course, but it is showing the shape of things to come. I decided to turn left towards the main road. I could already see the next barrier looming in the distance. There was no longer access to the main road. You could see it and traffic was normal, but no way could you cross the road. On the other side of the road there is the path to the local castle, but this was now out of bounds. Crossing the main road was a no go, at least in this part of my village world.

Building in Feldbrunnen 18.06 (5)

The sign is showing that pedestrians can walk towards the right or the left, but straight ahead is a no go, although on this photo I managed to capture a brave jogger who was running towards me. Did he break the law by crossing the road: a very brave man. I decided to take my life in my own hands, if he could jog on the path, there must be a possibility to walk straight ahead. I discoverd at the top of the path, I could turn right and walk along the fresh new surface of the street

Building in Feldbrunnen 18.06 (12)until I arrived at another point of no return. I came from the direction ahead and realised I was in danger, confronted by a raw surface of stones and rubble where the workman had left it for the week-end: again I had to turn left this time towards the village. However, I was now becoming a rebel. Despite walking with the support of a cane, I was defiant. I live in this village, it is my territory and no sign will tell me what to do.

I would also explain at this point of my journey to the unknown, that taking photos with a cane needed for support in one hand is not easy. I had my smaller Canon camera and it was suspended around my neck which was no problem. The problem arose when I actually took a photo. I needed both hands for an exact focus and one was occupied with a cane. I discovered leaning against a wall was helpful, if I found one. Otherwise resting the cane against my legs was a good method, however, if I happened to move my legs the cane slipped in a downwards movement to the ground and I had to pick it up afterwards. Another opportunity was to wedge the cane on the branchs of a bush, if there was a bush nearby. In spite of all these interferences, I took quite a few photos to document my journey. When Scot of the Antartic left his shelter for the last time, he also left some documentary eveidence behind. Mr. Swiss said if you go for a walk take your mobile phone in case of danger, a good piece of advice. He was also on a walk, but somewhere in another direction.

Building in Feldbrunnen 18.06 (13)

I continued, undaunted and disovered that it was now becoming a patchwork path, some of it had been renewed and some was waiting for renewal. We have our local railway running parallel to the main road which does not help. I noticed that borders had already been placed to show where the future railway walking path would be. Somewhere along the way I discovered that our underground tunnel connection to the other side of the road still existed, which was a possibility to get to the other side. I remembered the joke, which is for me no longer a joke, “Why did the Chicken cross the road” although the answer “to get to the other side” was no longer appropriate in our outpost of road repairs where civilisation ends and your are confronted with the realities of the real world. Did the chicken survive, or are the eggs still waiting to be hatched?

I decided I had seen enough of this brave new world, where you had to be brave to walk along it, and turned into the village. I saw this as I turned the corner.

Building in Feldbrunnen 18.06 (21)Not only was our main road under siege, but the enemy was slowing encroaching on the village. Too many building sites are not good for me. I wanted a nice little walk, take some photos and no stress. I decided enough was enough.

To put you in the picture our village main road is being renovated, but we can still use it, although only until the end of June. It will then be closed for a month – no problem. It seems one exit to real life will remain, the one at the end of our estate thank goodness. We had visions of making a detour in the other direction adding half an hour to normal a five minute drive to the supermarket, although this is more heresay that an actual fact. I am now restricted to walks only on my side of the main road as crossing over using the tunnel is too far for me to go alone – perhaps with Mr. Swiss, but it would not be fun.

These things pass eventually, and I can show my photos to my descendents about the day when Feldbrunnen was isolated from civilisation and how we survived. Survival? – we do not even have a village shop, it closed a long while ago because people never found it.

Daily Prompt: Community Service

Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us COMMUNITY.

Further down the road

This is where it all happens, the Swiss village adventure; the place where hedgehogs and cats say goodnight to each other, where a skeleton might be literally found when building a new house, the place many years ago where the local chopping block was situated for the criminal elements in the Swiss landscape.

We find ourselves in a Swiss village, bordering a market town and surrounded by farmland, cows, pigs and wheat fields and the castle on the hill. Such idyllic surroundings but let us take a closer look at the community and see what can be found. The village of Fontana di Campo (let us call it by its Italian name – sounds so romantic) has existed for many years. Some original houses are still there, showing the past days of glory and land ownership. One day it was decided to develop this little village, build new, modern apartment houses, of course keeping the nice clean lines depicting a brave new world (did someone else use that once for a book title?).

The nicest thing about the new conception is that the powers of organisation decided to maintain the low tax rates, one of the lowest in the state. We welcome all new inhabitants, especially those that were directors, managers, wealthy families, to ensure this low tax and thus keeping the village inhabitants financially satisfied with their home in Fontana di Campo.

What do we have to offer? We have no shops, so nothing low level like supermarkets, special offers, the noise of shopping trolleys moving and screaming children. Indeed the population of humans is probably equal to the cow population at the moment, the advantage of cows being that they disappear when the farmer decides.

The first noise in the morning is not a cow moo, but the soft clap of the letter box when the newspaper delivery man arrives. The happy inhabitants can then rest assured that their newspaper can be read with breakfast. Then the village begins to awake. Dutiful housewives distribute their bed linen to places where the nocturnal sleep odours can be dispersed by fresh air. There are some housewives that prefer to just make a bed (like me) and others that take it upon themselves to create something new and fresh by airing the bed linen outside or on the balcony.

Slowly life arrives. The garage door lifts to let the workers depart for their places of work. Perhaps a greeting might be exchanged, or just a nod. Left behind are the non-workers, the retired, or the odd mother, although mothers are few and far between in this village and children are not seen or heard a lot. A large percent of senior citizens live in the village, reaping the benefits of their retirement, such as myself.

However, there is constant movement in the village. Paths have to be swept, windows cleaned, gardens tended to. Those without a garden have their geraniums on the balcony to water, or perhaps their pots of herbs to cultivate, to enrich their daily cooked meals. There is also a constant observation, although generally behind closed windows, net curtains, or half drawn blinds. “When is Mr. X going to mow his lawn, the grass is far too long”, or “Mr. XX should cut his hedge, it must be at least three centimetres higher than the others. It spoils the general appearance”. And again the paths will be swept. There is a plant, a weed growing between the stones which is quickly removed. It spoils the general symmetry.

Of course in another part of the village, where there are owned houses which have been there for many years, there might be a gardener at work, perhaps a cleaning lady busy with the general inside work or cleaning windows (I clean my own). You might even see a police car parked outside. Perhaps there was a robbery, a break-in, and the family jewels or works of art were stolen. Today you are never safe, but a motion sensor is the solution to this problem. We have one, since the robbery in our area. Our felines find it super that the two legged felines, the humans, have now ensured that they have light during the night when they sit on their favourite chair on the porch. We are not so sure that our local neighbours appreciate this light blinking on and off all night, but up to now we have had no complaints, so they too are probably sleeping in the safety of their homes.

Are we really one big happy community, basically yes, Of course you do not like Mrs. XXX and she does not like you, but you do your best to avoid contact. There are times when you are forced to say good morning, hello and greet someone that you would rather avoid, and they only acknowledge you because they cannot avoid it. So is a community, a mixed bunch of people, forced to live in the same place and forced to bear with all their advantages and disadvantages.

And now to remove and clean two flower boxes from the porch. The flowers have died and their desolate appearance might disturb a neighbour. Did I see the blind move slightly? Probably just a figment of my imagination. I must put those two hoses away now for the Winter, cannot have them cluttering up the porch for no reason. Thank goodness my son has now mowed the lawns, at least no-one can shake their heads at their uneven growth and it is probably the last mow before the Winter arrives.

Daily Prompt: Community Service

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A Moment in time

Sissinghurst farm

“Mrs. Relf we are only have our photo done, not going to see the queen.“

“What is that supposed to mean Jed Gurr. I have put my best hat on for this photo. Not everyday that Mr. Stickells calls to us in the fields to make one of those pictures. You can talk, trimming your beard would have been a good idea. I won’t be having you standing next to me in the picture.”

“Don’t worry Mrs. Relf, I will be at the back in any case. I don’t know why the likes of me have to be there. I’ve got work to do. This picture thing is not going to pick any hops for us is it?.”

“Well, look at that here comes  Mrs. Edwards with her best hat on as well.” And Jed Gurr gave Mrs. Edwards a glance of amusement.

“Good morning Frieda” said Mrs. Relf “

“Morning Agnes” answered Frieda Edwards “Lovely day for a photo.”. She turned to her son that was walking alongside of his mother. “Reuben stop running around in that mud, you are going to make your shoes dirty.”

“Come on mum, Mr. Stickells won’t be taking any of those pictures of my feet. It is going to be my face that he is interested in.”

“Well that’s true” said his mother “So did we wash our ears this morning and what’s that grubby mark on your face. Been eating the squire’s raspberries again.?”

“Oh, leave him Frieda” said Agnes Relf “nothing that a bit of spit and a wipe of the pinafore won’t clean off.”

So Frieda Edwards decided Agnes was right and went to work on Reuben’s face. It was clean afterwards but Reuben was not very happy.

“Ow, mum that hurt, didn’t have to rub like that.”

“Well at least you are clean now. What about you Jed Gurr, you could have at least trimmed your beard.”

“Oh, leave him Frieda. He reckons he will be at the back of the photo, because he wants to get away quickly to pick some hops. Look who’s coming, more people here now than you see at the church on Sunday morning, Joan Baldock and her son Jason. Morning Joan, morning Jason. Are you joining in on the picture.”

“It was mum’s idea” said Jason “She told me to put on my best hat and jacket for the picture.”

“I would think so too, Jason. It is not every day we have our picture taken. Just imagine me and my son on a picture together, never been done before. Jed Gurr, make sure you stand behind me. I don’t want that scruffy beard of yours down at the front.”

“Now what have you all got against my beard. I combed it special for the picture. I won’t be at the front. All this new fangled stuff about pictures. Who wants to see me anyhow. I’m here to earn money by picking hops.”

“We all know that Jed Gurr. You are the one that drinks most of the beer down in the inn in the evening, so you have to make sure enough hops are picked to be brewed. “ and Agnes Relf gave Jed Gurr a disapproving glance.

“Now what’s going on, having a go at you are they Jed”. The sisters Emily and Isabel Pankhurst arrived on the scene. Both spinsters, but always there when something interesting was going on in the village.

“Nice day to have a picture taken” Emily said and Isabel nodded in agreement.

The Pankhurst sisters always agreed on everything
“Well I must say everyone is looking their best. I told Emily we ought to put on our best hats, you never know who might see the picture one day.” And Emily nodded in approval. She nodded in approval at everything Isabel said. They were not twins, Isabel was the oldest, but only by a year, but that year meant respect when you lived in a small country village.

“Even Reuben has nice bright and shiny face.”

“Well that’s cos me mum spit on her pinafore and rubbed it up.”

“I should think so to Reuben” his mum said “can’t have you with a dirty face on a picture now can we.”

“You are right Frieda Edwards, what would Mr. Stickells say when he arrives.”

“Talking of Mr. Stickells and his picture machine, about time he was here. I have work to do.”

“You and work, Jed Gurr, now that’s new. Thinking more about the time the inn opens up.”

“Oh leave him Agnes, as long as he stands at the back who cares.” And Emily Pankhurst found her sister Isabel was right.

“Look mum” Reuben Edwards was getting excited “Mr. Stickells is coming down the road with his three legged stand and big photo machine. Mrs. Crabb is with him as well.”

“Trust Philadelphia Crabb to want to join in on the picture.” Said Reuben’s mother. “She’s not from this village, but on the other side of the river. Only moved in a couple of years back and already thinks she belongs. “

“Morning ladies and gentlemen” said Mr. Stickells. “So are we already for having our picture made. Now get yourselves nicely organised. As I can see it we are going to make a nice picture. I think we will put the gentleman with the beard at the back in the middle and the ladies forming a row in front. The lady with her son should stand together on the right. Take these flowers in you arm I brought with me as a prop, brightens up the photo a bit, especially with your son standing next to you. Now let’s have the young man at the front on the right. But somethings missing. Can’t have a young lad on his own. Whose the girl standing over there watching.“

“That’s Reuben’s sister” said Frieda Edwards “she has just finished her work in the diary.”

“Well, young lady you come over here, take up a branch of hops like your brother and stand right next to him. Now all we need is that basket in front and I think that will be perfect. The sunlight is just right and the hops are a nice frame to the picture. Ok, everyone don’t breath, stand still, it won’t take long.”

Mr. Stickells put his head under the black cloth on the camera and pressed the button. And this photo is a moment in time in a village somewhere in East Sussex.