Safe anchor…

It is easy to feel adrift when the world is so full of uncertainty.

Hold on to the treasured moments, the significant people, the precious memories and the valued places that have provided you with shelter through life’s storm. Let them be your anchor.

© Alison Jean 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

Autumn Leaves.

It was the autumn of our lives

Russet hues and ochre through the views that held our gaze as we forged ahead unfazed by the onset of middle age.

We had a sense of calm and oakened wisdom that only comes with the passage of time.

A patience and forbearance borne of familial love and desperation for our children to rise and thrive on the highest tides and not to sink and flounder in the murky depths of the recession’s doom and gloom.

It was the autumn of our lives and we could survive with less.

It was the autumn of our lives and we could smile at more.

No longer was it critical for the opening of the door to our desires and dreams

We became content to be thankful for the pleasures we had already received,

We were able to give with genuine compassion and cherish the gifts however small of each new day.

A sunrise, the crunch of leaves underfoot, a hand held for a moment too long,

The smell of freshly baked bread, a fragrant rose as the raindrops spilled from heaven above.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

Time passes.

Withered

Her hand frail against the withered fronds as she rearranged the flowers

For time had sold them short.

 

Joyful

Her youthful stance and gaze, as glorious bride in the gaily painted photo-frame

Captured in the stillness of time framed by the care-home mantle-piece.

 

Anguish

Forgetting fettered fragile moments of family-time,

Lost forever in the timelessness of a fretful mind.

 

Peacefulness

Her pain receding as the hands of time hold her soul

Serene against the backdrop of a moonlit sky.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

This for poetics at d’verse. We were asked to explore something we couldn’t touch. It is coming up for the 10th anniversary of my mum passing away and she never got to be old so she never experienced losing her memories.

June already….

This is my first post in quite a few weeks. It was a glorious May, the weather was sunny and bright and the fields, shrubs and trees blossomed. For me though, I needed to conserve energy, close in and give myself room to breathe.

It was a time of despair, frustration, discord, reassessment, consolidation and repair. It took time and it took silence. Time to listen to the sounds and focus on the real things and let go of the white noise and the humdrum and the background churnings that distract and destroy.

I continually ask myself what it is that is important- to me, to others, to our world. I am not sure I have the answers, I am not sure they are the right questions, I just know that the disillusionment of the last year sapped my energy greatly and I must remember not to let myself get sucked in again by its draining darkness. I can still believe in what seems right to me, it is not for others to decide by either their actions or inactions, I still get to choose what I feel, how I greet each day, how I process the events that happen to me and around me. This helps me get up and reach for a new day, a new dream a new horizon. I am not broken, just bruised and a little misshapen and the bruises will heal in time.

Carpe diem- seize the day. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

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.

The sinking of the Michael Griffith, Fleetwood 1953.

She set sail from Fleetwood with 13 hands on deck

The fishing trawler Michael Griffith, for Scotland her course was set.

Skipper Charles Singleton made the ship return to dock

A faulty pump valve changed their course and caused the trip to stop.

Repaired and ready to be on her way as Friday morning dawned

She put to sea in stormy winds so the journey was not prolonged.

The storm was brewing in the north and forced the tide to rise

The seas were rough, the night was long, and no-one heard her cries

The winds were wild the waves washed high up on the deck

And soon after midnight the mighty Michael Griffith floundered and became a wreck

The last message was received just eight miles south of Barra Head

Will some ship please come help us, full of water, no steam. Am helpless is what it said.

Lifeboats searched in heavy seas but no wreckage could be found

All lives were lost without a trace and in the storm they’d drowned.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

 

This is for Day16 of Napowrimo and is in memory of the lives lost in the storm of 1953.

The image is of Fleetwood and is from Wikimedia under CCSA licence:

Dr Neil Clifton [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The thirteen lives lost-

Skipper  Charles Singleton, Mate Leonard Grundy, Bosun J T Wilson, Chief engineer Harry Anderson, Second Engineer Thomas Burns, Firemen W Hargreaves and R Bodden, Deckhands J Tucker, S J Johns, J Cryson, C Murdoch and G Palin. Cook A Bidle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camping in Spring.

Zip me up

Snug as a bug in a rug

Raindrops on the roof

I revel in the sounds and smells of a spring storm

Lightning, thunder puts slumber asunder

Wind roars above

Sleeping bag saves me

I hide deep within

All zipped up.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for d’Verse quadrille. The challenge was Zip.

The caravan before the rain!