Winter Texture~~by Mark Huntley-James

We moved to Cornwall more than fifteen years ago, just in time for our first winter, and just like our previous home in Berkshire, the ground was frozen solid. A part of the previous winter routine had been intermittently checking the vegetable patch until the soil was soft enough to dig. Cornwall held no surprises in that respect until our third winter, a soft one.

We are close to the north coast and winter weather is dictated by whatever comes in off the Atlantic. The phrase that characterises our first soft winter was “where did all this mud come from?” After being accustomed to crisp and crunchy ground under our boots, soft and sticky, sucking and sliding was an unwelcome surprise.

In a soft winter, gateways become an opening to the centre of the world, because no matter how much mud you dig out, there is more at the bottom and the hole gets ever deeper. That was the winter when, in all innocence, I searched online for anyone local who could deliver hardcore – a startlingly long list of results, but nothing that would help firm up a gateway. Fortunately, the neighbours understood what I meant by hardcore and gave me the number of a local quarry who delivered ten tonnes of scalpings.

We are having another soft winter this year, which is fine because all of those pesky gateways are now packed with stone. Elsewhere in the UK there has been snow, but here, aside from a few morning frosts, the ground is soft and the temperatures are mild, and I was being bitten by midges a month ago. Down in our sheltered sunken garden, the white willow catkins are opening so it looks as if the trees are dusted with snow, and the hazel tree is a mass of its own trailing yellow catkins.

When we first came here, and I mean literally the day we got the keys, we took a stroll out on a chilly January day, and followed the boundary around. One of the first things we encountered was a fence along the top of a shallow cliff and down below lay an unreachable magical, sunken garden, a border of trees to the east and west, a view out to the north, gorse bushes draped with cobwebs and a light mist curling through. We were both smitten with that sunken (OK, strictly it was a terrace, but from atop the cliff it was sunken) garden. We walked on, all the way down to the woodland and stream of our lower boundary, ignored how much work was needed on the fences, and then back up, only to find ourselves in that magical sunken garden, looking up at the spot from where we had so recently looked down.

As it turned out, the sunken garden looked magical on a misty January day, but in the middle of summer it was a humid hell-hole plagued with savage biting insects. However, over the years, we have planted trees, made a few changes, and now it is becoming a pleasant piece of open woodland, shielded from the worst of the weather, and the place where the soft winter comes into its own.

Everything starts just a little sooner down in the sunken garden, including us. The first bits of pruning and trimming are done, new steps giving access down the little cliff will happen this year, the elder is in leaf, the bluebells are up and the buds on the daffodils are just starting to curl down, ready to flower.

I am not a fan of mud, but I do like the feel of our soft winter.


OMP Admin Note:  Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.

He has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC ) and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS  ) – and is working on a third. His contribution to the One Million Project: Fantasy anthology is While We Were Sleeping.

He can be found online at his blog http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers are now available (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

BEHIND THE SHADOWS~~by Christine Larsen

Dream-writing in the shadow of my hand.
lighting the darker corners of my mind.
Will I find hidden treasures?
Maybe… just around the corner.
Will I find memories there?
Feel the bi-polar swings of extremities of happy;
of sad?
Again?
Over and ever again?
Sometimes they stumble, near fall;
others they flow, waltz, harmonise,
and lift spirits beyond high.
Such is this day,
this blessed moment.

It’s a ‘re-charge of batteries’ day I’m giving myself after a yesterday that zapped my reserves…

physically, mentally, and most of all, emotionally.

“How can you be SO strong, ALL the time? some ask, truly believing the smiling face, the spirited voice and demeanour.

Such an actress sometimes.

Yet another learning curve on this trying, tortuous path, painfully passing through this tangled field of cancer weeds.

Though I walk alone in many ways, I am surrounded by well-wishes and prayers… and more than any of these… LOVE!

Do they ALL carry candles, these dear heart loves… causing a tsunami of a glow to safely, comfortingly, enfold me?

Would they truly suggest I alone am responsible for my creativity?

NO apologies when I reply insistently with a resounding ‘NO WAY!!’

Would those dear hearts also wish to share my lows?

They DO happen… like yesterday, resulting in a decent flow of tears and a snuffly outpouring of doubts and fears. But, as always, my cavalry arrived. This time, my ‘fighting’ forces took the form of —

  • a long and lovely cuddle on the lounge by my dear ‘Old McLarsen’ — hubby of 56 years;
  • a copious handful of tissues;
  • more pain meds;
  • three (yes, 3!) microwaveable gel ‘hottie’ packs for strategic areas of greatest discomfort;
  • careful and most caring, superb surveillance by one cat and one dog;
  • and always and ever,
  • the serious inner care and support from MICA (my inner ‘warrior’ child);
  • and this cast of thousands (hmm… bit of an exaggeration!) — of my caring’ loves’.

The catalyst of this’ ‘low’ (or meltdown) presented the latest need for adjustment to my ‘pacing’ as I deal with the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ of my journey.

I find it tremendously important — and most helpful, to be as prepared as possible for these ‘downers’… and accept them for exactly what I just described — a time to recharge. We all need that, no matter what we’re facing. A favourite saying (if I haven’t shared it before) is —

‘Don’t put the keys to your happiness in someone else’s pocket’


OMP Admin Note: Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

Christine contributed A Bonny Wee Lassie to the One Million Project: Fiction anthology.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers are now available (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology