Pussy Willow Buds

After such a mild and very wet winter, it seems appropriate to share this photograph, showing the buds of the pussy willow by the pond at Sun Rising.  If you look closely you can see the sparkling of rain drops on the buds themselves.

Alder Buds

It’s a photograph taken on a phone, so not brilliant in quality, but it gives a good sense of the damp grey of the winter, but also the precious beauty of new life emerging.  Spring …

Frost

What a mild and wet winter we have had so far here in South Warwickshire.  The number of days when we’ve had a hard frost is still less than half a dozen.  When they do come, it is such a delight : cold but crisp, and you can feel the frost doing its job of cutting back, cleansing, clearing the environment, naturally.

Frost

Frost

Carols at Sun Rising

Carols at Sun Rising

On Sunday 15 December we held a concert of carols and winter songs at Sun Rising, which turned out to be a wonderful event, despite a burst of rain in the middle!  The choir was organised by Felix Mindham (whose mother and brother are laid to rest at Sun Rising), and wonderfully led by Cathie Zara, with singers from two local choirs: Low Wimmin Singing and The Leamington Plotters.

Among the songs and carols were old favourites that everyone could sing along to, together with less familiar arrangements, and a few new songs, finishing up with The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Here’s the choir with their Twelve Days cards.

Carols at Sun Rising

Carols at Sun Rising

With 50 – 60 people coming on the day, the warmed mince pies and mulled wined disappeared quickly, as did the array of greenery for winter wreaths provided by local florist Amanda Luther.  As a fundraising event for The Friends, we’ve yet to declare an exact figure, but we believe we took around £60 after expenses.

Very many thanks to everyone who contributed to and supported the event, with energy and organisation, bringing voices and enthusiasm.  Let us know what you thought of it!

Nova's Cabin

The Cabin

Putting up a completed webpage about some aspect of a project is always a good sign: it often marks either the beginning or the end.  I’m very happy to say that Nova’s Cabin at Sun Rising is now pretty much completely operational, and the webpage is up!  Have a look at https://sunrising.co.uk/visiting/cabin.html.  The key photo on the page is taken from the south western corner of the site, by the pond …

Nova's Cabin

Nova’s Cabin

Reds of Nature

Late Autumn

Tree planting this year has been just wonderful.  We’re over half way through now, having planted some 50 memorial trees, each one in memory of someone loved and remembered.  Some years, we are cowed under rain, or tight with biting cold.  This year the weather has been beautifully mild.  The russet colours of autumn seems at times still to be with us, the very last of the leaves just now falling, a month later than usual.

Reds of Nature

Reds of Nature

With the cabin now fully functioning, its woodstove has been humming through the course of tree planting day, which has helped as well, keeping us toasty and warm …

Rose Hips and Sheep Grazing

Autumn

With autumn’s beautiful colours, the sheep have now come to Sun Rising.  Kept off the burial areas with electric fencing, they are beautiful black faced lasses, who quietly watch the world around them.  If the weather doesn’t get too wet, they will stay on the grassland for a month or so, mowing down the last of the summer’s grass growth.

Rose Hips and Sheep Grazing

Rose Hips and Sheep Grazing

With the autumn has also come the rain.  Although the ground is still not too muddy, some newer graves, and the area around the new cabin, are now rather claggy.  With some sharp frost, the earth will break up, ready for spring …

(Please forgive the poor quality of this photo.  I’ve not quite got the hang of this new phone camera!)

Funeral Prices

In the latest edition of the Funeral Service Times, a report states that the average funeral now costs over £7000. At Sun Rising, without a funeral director, the average funeral costs around £2000.  And with a good local funeral director, it should cost no more than £3200.

FST Funeral Prices

Of course, you can pay as much as you like on a funeral, opting for expensive memorials and all the bells and whistles, but there is no need to do so.

The report was made by an insurance company, so perhaps there is an agenda about how much one should be putting into a pre-payment plan?

Nova's Cabin

Nova’s Cabin

The new cabin is currently being erected at Sun Rising.  Made almost entirely of wood, with waney edged green oak boards and a cedar shingle roof, the cabin will provide us with a small place where I can meet with families to talk about ideas, hopes, plans and wishes,  to arrange funerals and memorials, to share a moment’s conversation, and in winter perhaps to warm hands and toes.

There is also an eco-composting toilet in the cabin.  This has little of the white ceramic elegance of a twenty-first century convenience, but it is a brilliant piece of design: a toilet that needs no sewerage, no water, no electricity.  It can also be placed near water courses, like the little brook that runs along the side of the burial ground, as, being entirely self-contained, it poses no risk of pollution.  And all it creates is compost!  Let’s see how it works in practice.

The cabin won’t be staffed all the time, so the toilet – accessible only through the office – won’t be available except if there is a member of staff on site.  However, whenever we are there, the five-bar gate will be open: so pop in and say hello!

Here’s a picture of the construction in process …

Nova's Cabin

Building Nova’s Cabin at Sun Rising

After the Haycut

Mowing the Meadow

There is something so paradoxical about this period of harvest.  At Sun Rising, to some, the wildflowers might now look tatty, going to seed, without the colours of early summer, but in other ways their heavy load of dark seed is so precious.  Long grasses may look messy in our gardens, but at the nature reserve the wild grasses, now dry and golden, picking up the slightest movement of the breeze, are a beautiful expression of the natural world.  As the combine harvesters rumble through the fields of wheat and barley, we too have been cutting, mowing the meadows and strimming down the year’s growth.  Some of the hay has been strewn over new graves, helping the gentle processes of spreading the seeds.  So, though we may feel a sorrow as the summer comes to its end, there is beauty too, in areas now cut short and tidy, in the first turning of the young saplings’ leaves, the guelder rose turning burgundy red, the bramble berries full of promise.

Mowing is always a wonderful time for the community of Sun Rising too, when volunteers come and help with the raking, many of whom have loved ones laid to rest beneath the grasses and knapweed, the teasels and clover.  This year we had a lovely crowd once again, not just bringing muscles and determination, but respect, love and care, not to forget the exquisite chocolate brownies.  Thank you to each and every one.

The photo here (with thanks to Eric Lown) is taken towards the end of the day when the main wildflower meadows are all done.

After the Haycut

After the Haycut

The last burial areas, the war memorial, the pond and around the hedges, will continue to be cut over the coming month.

Clouds and Grasses at Sun Rising

Clouds and Grasses

Even on miserable days, the clouds at Sun Rising can be inspiring.  When life feels heavy, and little lifts the soul out of the grey, the ridge of Sun Rising Hill creates that thermal, breaking up the skies, and offering us moments of wonder.

Clouds and Grasses at Sun Rising

Clouds and Grasses at Sun Rising

I love this photograph.  Not only does it show beautifully the rich diversity of cloud shapes and colours, but beneath it the many grasses of the wildflower meadow, now thoroughly run to seed.  There is the tall false oat grass, the tight crested dogstail, the whiskered meadow barley and soft yorkshire fog, amongst a handful more I couldn’t identify for sure.

Nature is always a beautiful mixture of beauty in both its intricate detail and its vast expanses.