Saturday, 10 February 2007

A little pilgrimage.

Many years ago when our boys were small, my mum was told she had a massive inoperable carcinoma. To help ease the pain, she was prescribed tincture of opium, the drug derived from the poppy. I thought to myself how poppies were making an impact on me for the second time in my life, though not solely for their beauty this time, but for their use in medicinal purposes.

My sister and I nursed mum for five of the longest and most harrowing months in our lives, during which time she fought her illness with every ounce of strength she had. Three months after she passed away, we packed our caravan and set off on a much-needed family holiday.

One day, while surveying the surrounding countryside through my binoculars, I saw in the far distance a red swathe of colour, which I thought might be a field of poppies. Excited at the prospect of going on a little adventure to find them, we set off early next morning with map, compass and a picnic lunch.

After a few fruitless hours driving hither and thither, we pulled off the road onto a little dirt track and parked the car to consult the map once more. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I saw a dustcart come lumbering slowly down the track behind us. As it approached, I decided to ask one of the men if he knew of any poppy fields in the vicinity. To our amazement, he gave us instructions to carry on up the track to the top of the hill.

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