Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Why Barleycorn?

So many happy summers of my childhood were spent experiencing the joys of farming life with my grandparents. They lived on an island, with their farm in close proximity to the sea, which afforded the added pleasures of beach-combing. Being surrounded by all the wonders of nature, in a loving, secure environment, I could not fail to be strongly influenced by it all.

The barley harvests, in particular, are indelibly imprinted in my memory. To this day, I can recall clearly the sounds of the reaper and the binder, and the cameraderie of all the farm-hands. It took all day to build up the hay-stacks of barley straw with pitch-forks. My task was to carry the picnic of crusty bread and home-baked goodies across the fields to feed the workers. I remember the hurl back to the farm at the end of a long day, and the feelings of unease I had, because the floor of the reaper was crawling with earwigs.

When we moved to this house, which nestles in a little dip in the land, I could not take my eyes off the barley field behind it. All those childhood memories came flooding back. The lower part of the house also has yellow bricks, called "rustic straw-thatch". I remembered also the barley harvests and how the seed had often been referred to as barleycorns, meaning "grains of seed". It seemed as good a name as any to call our new home.

Wind through the barley,
The song of the breeze,
Ephemeral poppies,
The tracery of trees,
A feast for the eyes!
Our little corner of paradise.

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