In my mind January and February are hibernation months. A time when, in nature’s outward dormancy, it restores itself making way for the vibrant activity of the Spring and Summer months culminating in the offerings of the harvest months. I expect January and February to be cold and look forward to wrapping up warm in my favourite overcoat, for snow to fall and to making preparations, in the event of a heavy fall of snow, for guests of Poulstone to arrive at and depart from the retreat centre with relative ease. I prepared for very little work in the gardens and most of my time planned for staying indoors, catching up on administrative tasks and preparing the house for the Spring, Summer and harvest months.
Well, we have had a big surprise. The predicted cold winter has seemed to escape Poulstone and much of England and marched directly to the east coast of the USA. Poulstone has had incredibly windy days though, particularly in January, with significant rainfalls in Herefordshire but no snowfall, not even cold weather.
The excess rainfall has brought its own idiosyncrasy to Poulstone. The view from the South of the house towards the River, which has now broken its banks and flooded the surrounding plains, is nothing short of enchanting. I take great delight in standing next to the Wellingtonia tree, to the front of the house, looking across the fields towards the River Wye as morning begins to break, taking in the vitalising morning dewy air.
I now have a picture imprinted in my mind of the views from Poulstone towards the river on a January morning. It is made up of bright orange skies, clouds stretched out like dough allowing the morning sun to peep through in places and in other places, reflecting morning light into a haze which loses itself in the horizon, a blanket of water reflecting the overhanging trees and clouds, the green beach of paddock touching the spread of the river and the vista completed with ancient trees, whose wisdom lingers in the air. This must be what one of the Guardians of Poulstone, the Wellingtonia Tree, sees and experiences every morning in the beginning months of the year.
Nature must be bewildered by the warm start to the year. The grass has started to grow, maybe it never stopped growing, and the garden has required more attention than anyone planned. The mower has been out for the first cut of grass in 2016. The smell of cut grass in early February has confused our senses, as has mowing grass whilst having to avoid budding snow drops and daffodils. I am very grateful to Malvern Bhavan group for volunteering to do some work in the garden for a few hours as a part of their retreat. This has helped Poulstone catch up on the outdoor garden work and also turned out to be a fun and rewarding part of their retreat. If any retreat would like to spend some of its time helping out in the garden, please let us know. We can prepare a small schedule of outdoor garden works for your group.
We also organised massage therapy on behalf of a Cultural Leadership retreat. We had to temporarily convert the shop and the overflow dining room (now known as the tea room) into massage therapy rooms. Our therapists, all qualified at the Bristol School of Massage, ended up providing eleven massage therapies. Again, if you wish to have massage therapy during your stay at Poulstone, please let us know in good time and we will do our best to organise a therapy.
Poulstone is looking forward to hosting Jan and Desire and their group who have been visiting Poulstone, for what must be, over twenty years. They introduced us to the house with a shamanic ceremony. It really will be wonderful to be with your spirit again.
A big thankyou to all the groups who have used the house in January and February. It’s been a very pleasant start to the year and spring, it seems, is already upon us. I do not wish to count “my eggs before they hatch”. Ever mindful of the fickleness of English weather, so, my overcoat is at the ready, I am still making plans for guests in the event of heavy snows but doing so whilst “on the mower” in readiness for the next cut.
With much love
22 February 2016