That which drives us

I look around me as winter reaches its finale and I am mindful of the fragility of our current existence.

It should be what we have that drives us, not what we have not.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Across the Bay

Brisk breeze beguiles  
Winter sun warms the weariest of souls. 
Across the bay snow atop the Langdales.
Gulls glide as eventide
Sheds a subtle ombre orange sunset glow across the sheltered sands.
Whisper me home.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

© Feature Image courtesy of Dave Hankinson

The stench of trauma

Olfactory associations.
In 2001 we experienced a hugely traumatic event in Cumbria, our county was ravaged by foot and mouth disease, it began in early February and by late March virtually the whole of the County was restricted and lifestock was culled in the thousands. Some estimate that as many as 20,000,000 animals were slaughtered during the course of the year. Where they found an outbreak livestock within a three mile radius were culled-this was refered to as a pre- emptive cull.

I remember driving along the cavernous empty motorway, virtually nothing seemed to travel along the M6 other than the slaughter trucks with their “Livestock reduction programme” signage and the trucks eventually carrying the rotting carcasses to burial sites like the one at Great Orton. At the time I was working as an education advisor for Cumbria LEA and although my schools were all in the South Cumbria area much of the work we did was as part of a team and covered the whole of Cumbria, travelling to Penrith and Carlisle was part of my weekly routine. Part of our team’s remit was to support schools in supporting the mental health and well being of their student populations and so the we did play a very large part in the later responses to the crisis.

At first it was the smell of burning pyres that haunted me most, the smell of roasting flesh, the pyres were enormous beyond anything anyone could possibly imagine and often burned for weeks on end until the Department for public health declared the smoke as dangerous to health and forbid them to be used a as a disposal method anymore- that was when they moved on to creating huge burial pits for the never ending trucks full with the carcasses of dead farm animals. Then I remember the stench of rotting flesh as the carcasses were dumped at Great Orton. Too many were culled to be able to transport or buru them in a timely manner and the army was drafted in to help with the process. My husband was drafted in to work for atwo week shift, they weren’t allowed to come home during that time and it took him many months to recover from the tasks he was asked to do during that time. The dead animals lay bloated and rotting on smallholdings and farms and the build up of gas was so dangerous that their bellies had to be punctured before they could be dumped in teh over burdened pits. You could smell Great Orton from my parents house some 10 miles away in Port Carlisle if the wind was in the right direction. There are 26 trenches at Great Orton and in them just less than half a million carcasses. It has now been turned into a nature reserve as a memorial- Watchtree.

Dave bought me a lemon scented air freshener for my car so that my nose had some respite from the constant stench of trauma and it gave me a different aroma to focus on during those lengthier journeys. Trouble is the lemon scent became associated with the scent of the trauma it was tryi g to over come and I cannot bear to have lemon scented air freshener any more in my car, or for that matter in the house.

This pandemic will also have it’s own smell, for me, as I work from home in my extended isolation the aromas are pleasant, coffee roasting in the pot, good nutritious home cooking on the stove or in the oven, the clean crisp smell of a frosty winter morning as I go for a gentle jog.

The aromas for many others will be unforgettable, unimaginable and will become the unmistakeable stench of trauma to them for the rest of their living days. Our trauma from foot and mouth was quickly forgotten and the things we put in place to safeguard against the trauma for the children and their families have long since vanished but the smell will never go.

We must care for these people onec the pandemic is over, we must acknowledge the trauma that they have suffered, as it will always be a part of them and the memory will never fade when it has such a strong olfactory association.

Dedicated to all those who know and have known the stench of trauma.

If you wish to read a little mor about the FMD 2001

https://www.visitcumbria.com/foot-and-mouth-disease-in-cumbria/

Alison Jean Hankinson

Weathering the storm.

We find ourselves still in lockdown after almost eleven months of disruption and isolation. I find that there is so much that I thought I needed before the pandemic that I have slowly come to see is not needed at all. We filled our lives with so much that was uneccessary and benal. So much of out time energy and money was spent on what I can only describe as diversions.

Diversions from what is another matter-diversions from what existence is. The mortal condition. We are here for but a moment and it isn’t about how much we possess but about what we experienced and learned in that moment and what we were able to give that is meaningful or can make a diffference.

The distractions had beeen so beguiling, even writing is perhaps a distraction.

Before we were just marching relentlessly forward, whereas now we have had time to pause and reconnect, now we can work out where we have been, where we really are now, and think about where we actually want to be in our future if there is a future and if we as mere mortals can actually steer anything that is our future.

There were points in my life where I thought that I was in control, where I thought I could somehow determine and shape the future for myself and those around me, and now I see that most of it has always been outside of my control. The very nature of our existence can be changed in a nanosecond by that which is way beyond our control. It challenges everything I have stood for, all the lessons I have ever taught and yet at the same time it just adds another dimension to be grappled with.

The truth is, this pandemic has muddied the waters, blurred the edges. Working hard is no surety for a stable future. The fragile reality that we have built our lives on can be overturned so quickly, so easily and with such alarming speed. Most of us have no idea what the next day or month will bring let alone what life will be like 10 years down the track.

I have relearned to taste my food and savour the pleasure that it gives. I have relearned to value all that I have around me, the people, the places, my home and to try to value each moment for what it is secure in the knowledge that this moment might be as good as it gets, and none of it is to be taken for granted.

The wealth and beauty in the time-worn.

In Japan they have a word Kintsugi and it relates to keeping something and continuing to use it even when it has become damaged and care-worn. I am finding that as I age in our very materialistic and modern world that this idea resonates greatly with me. I feel that I myself am almost Kintsugi as I have been broken and fixed so many times.

I no longer feel the need to have everything shiny and new and in the latest style, it is as if I feel now more than ever that there was a time where it was the meaning that gave the value and this was more important than the monetary value of the “thing”. On my wall I have a clock that my mother got for me many years ago and its monetary value is meaningless but it still adorns my wall, she got it for me because she thought it would appeal to me and it still holds that value and the love that came with it deep within.

Sunday afternoon was very cold and wintery and in an attempt to stave off the cold we ventured into Bruccianis for a hot chocolate. Bruccianis is on the promenade at Morecambe and it opened in 1939 and still occupies the same building and much of the interior design and decor is still untouched and it is now a grade 2 listed building.

For me the comfort is in its menu. It takes me back to days gone by when I would warm my hands on a mug of Horlicks in the Bus Station cafe in Rawtenstall after shopping with mum, Terry Jacks and “Seasons in the sun” playing on the radio. The menu here boasts Horlicks, Vimto, Bovril and the ultimate decadence of the Knickerbocker Glory. It isn’t shabby chic, or modern art nouveau but simply still the same as it was many years ago.

Its wealth and beauty is that it is what it is. No charlatan here. A place to warm up with a hot chocolate in the winter-time and chat with family and friends or a special ice-cream treat at the beach in a red-hot summer when the sand feels like it is on fire. Sometimes we don’t need perfection what we really need is congruence and familiarity.

 

Morecambe by the sea

Icy cold toes, winter sun

Horlicks comforts me.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

I am submitting this for Haibun Monday at d’Verse, it breaks the rules a tad, but I think it reflects change and perhaps it is also indicative of a change yet to come, a return to a different set of values.

 

Pakaru

The car is at the garage

The engine is Kaput

Another worry in the bag

And now it won’t stay shut.

 

We appear to haemorrhage money

There’ll soon be nothing left

It isn’t remotely funny

Friends family fortitude bereft.

 

Pakaru and redundant

For all my story’s worth

Broken beyond replacement

Nothing left but mirth.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Pakaru- broken for Mental Health Awareness week 2018.

 

 

 

 

Wintering down

So barren and bare

Sacres me with its sense of isolation

Leave-less trees, dead shrubbery scars the landscape

The wind bites through the boulders that shield me from the sudden snow flurry.

 

Old Man

Sits atop the slate,

Spoil heaps spill still from the rugged ruins of derelict mines.

Firm footsteps back toward the lake to see the sunset skim the surface of the water.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

I used the image called “Winter trees at Coniston” by Fay Collins. 

This was written for poetics   d’Verse

It is also Day 17 of Napowrimo.

My own flock of birds…

Here they silently speak my language

Share my passion for puns

Take pride in a past that is a portrait

Of my heritage and the story of my blood.

 

Here I belong

The names of the rivers and valleys and mountains

Are etched as clearly in my mind as the rugged landscapes

That call out my name on wild and windy mornings

and stir my restless spirit from its slumbers.

 

Irwell, Ribble, Eden, Lune

Here the waters wash away my whispers

Pendle, Cribden, Criffel, Shap

Here the shale and slate smooths away my fears.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for d’Verse poetics.

 

 

 

 

Shades of 50.

It is done, my fiftieth birthday year finally gone

Kicked the ass out of that, had a bit of fun

Moved house and home,

And now it is done.

Heartaches and happiness all in one.

What a year, glad to move on to 51.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

this is a bit cheesy but all I could muster for this week’s Quadrille at d’Verse. I celebrated my fiftieth birthday in hospital and it has been a roller-coaster of a year and I think some of the biggest dips were in the last week, so I was a bit quiet….So tomorrow I start a new day, and a new year… and I will be 51.

I miss my Ellen though and would love to have her home with me. XXXX

Driving through Dallam Estate.

It was a beautiful start to October, a little bit of chill in the early morning air and some dew on the grass. In the garden across the road there is an array of spider webs, which glisten in the dew. I haven’t dared to photograph them as I don’t want to disturb the neighbours and having me trample through their garden with my trusty camera might indeed be disturbing.

We spent some time at Heversham visiting family and came back through Dallam Park, it is beautiful at this time of year, with the trees turning and that warm soft afternoon sun. The Deer were quite low down and there were pheasants in abundance. I know that some people find them frustrating as they can damage garden beds, but I love to see them in all their splendour foraging in the shrubbery and grass for spiders and seeds.

Fall’s frail web of lace

Reminiscent of first frost

Pheasants chase spiders.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Haibun for d’Verse.

The spider web image was available to use in the public domain from pixabay, the other photographs were taken yesterday driving through Dallam Park.