Shadows and Reflections: the annual collection of postings where Caught by the River’s ever-reliable contributors and friends old and new take a look back on the events that have shaped the past twelve months.
When I sat and wrote the shadows and reflections in the closing breaths of 2013 little did I know that the metaphorical storm that I described as my life at the time would two months later swirl up off the pages and coalesce into a physical meteorological event. Yet at the very start of the new year, swirl it did, and anyone that’s followed the Drove Cottage pieces since will already be aware of how that all panned out.
To sum up 2014, it’s been a year of lost & found. A year that plays out like a cheesy Hollywood adaptation of Shakespeare or Austen. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl. Boy finds home, boy loses home. Lost friends, found friends.
The year has had its ups and downs for sure. It hasn’t been the lazily slow, steady drift downstream that I’d been hoping for but it definitely hasn’t been the eating soup with a spoon, bailing my boat with a colander carnage of the previous years, even with the flood. I’ve felt like I’ve been paddling like mad to stay afloat at times, but never felt like I’ve been drowning; think beautiful graceful swan, only with less grace and beauty.
Emerging from the months of feeling life slipping through my fingers like sand has come unlooked for positives. The years of heartache, loss and uncertainty have geared me up to cope with trauma, my core has been upgraded to gore-tex. I’ve lost stuff, but it was just stuff. Not having it any more can’t take away from who I am, who I want to be.
The year has given me many and varied highlights to keep me smiling on these dark winter nights, so in no particular order:
Discovering an entire new city & landscape. Winchester and its cobbled streets, wooded hills, pubs and it’s great company will forever occupy a happy place in my heart, despite that chapter being now soundly closed and being back in Salisbury. The Plough, West Woods, Old Winchester Hill, the crystal clear pool on the Itchen at Shawford. For a while it was a happy home.
Making a first festival appearance at Port Eliot this summer. Turns out that reading something as raw and personal as the flooding chapter of Drove Cottage to a sodding great tent full of people was much harder than I’d ever imagined. Yes, I blubbed. Like a baby in fact. But I pulled myself together eventually and carried on and at that point I felt like I was connected to every person in the tent.
Bringing the puppy into the family. Getting the dog was not only a fantastic move for Joe, who at age eleven is absolutely in love with the dog (Mungo), but was it turns out incredibly good for me too. I love having the smelly little furball around me, he’s never not pleased to see me, he’s never in a mood and he never complains if I talk about ground source heat pumps to him.
Unpacking the storage locker. Gaining a home for Joe, Mungo and me once again this autumn felt incredible. Unpacking my books, photos and things, emptying the storage locker and relaxing into a new space has been a singularly cathartic experience. All my Christmases come at once.
Guardians of the Galaxy.
H is for Hawk. Water & Sky.
The Wytches, Joanna Gruesome, Kid Wave & Broken Bells.
Never looking back.