Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What becomes of the broken hearted?


I stood at a crossroads...literally. My GPS indicated that I was close to the Fire Tower which had eluded me a week or so back (see All along the Watchtower). A fire break cut through the denser forest but that too had succumbed to natural regeneration. Would it go? At that point my eyes fell upon a simple post set back off the trail. I initially thought it was an old fence post but I was sure that I could see something carved beneath the lichen. Perhaps it marked the way to the Fire Tower or was a waymark-or blaze as they call them in the States-  indicating an old pathway that had been swallowed up by the forest. Picking my way across the rough ground I saw that it was indeed carved with an inscription....'Julian..  14 April 93.. died of loneliness'.

Wow..talk about a left hook into the emotional solar plexus! First thoughts of course..Who was Julian? followed by how did he die of loneliness? It was exactly 20 years ago almost to the month. Given it's position I wondered if perhaps I was the first person to see this? You immediately think of a young male suicide. Suicides are sadly all too common in these remote forests and backwaters and appear to be nearly always men. As the crow flies,about a mile away is a little cairn atop a little peak which takes in the vast panorama with the main Snowdonia peaks to the north and the wild Berwyns to the south.

In between the Arans and the Arenigs hover above the clouds. On this cairn is a simple plaque which remembers another young man who it reminds us 'dedicated his life to the disabled'. Two old farmers I met up there told me that he had committed suicide nearby. 'When they found him they didn't know who he was..took them weeks to find out' one of them said. No wonder Hiraethog translates as 'The moors of longing'. This is a melancholic place to be sure.

Getting back to Julian; thoughts and theories formulated in my head. Perhaps Julian himself had knocked it in before taking his own life..here..elsewhere?  Was this a special place. Somewhere he had regularly brought the love of his life.The one who had broken his heart and led him  to die of loneliness? If friends or family left it why such a maudlin statement and why did he die of loneliness if there were people who cared enough to come to this remote spot to remember him? Perhaps Julian was a family pet who pined away when his owner died?

I left Julian's lonely memorial behind and followed the trail which eventually reached the very edge of the forest. My GPS revealed the spot where the Fire Tower should have been but it was no longer there.Like Julian it had slipped into the past and no longer existed. At that point, Fergus disturbed two huge crows feasting on a lamb. One of them lazily took off and immediately crashed into the stock fence, catapulting back almost into the hounds' jaws. Recovering, it took off again and, seemingly gorged on fresh meat, cleared the fence with some difficulty and sluggishly took off into the West. The day before, a blue tit, obviously in a state of spring fever, had crashed into a shed at home. I picked it up and it had clasped my finger with it's long claws. Looking surprisingly perky considering it's situation. I prized off its claws placed on a shed roof,well out of reach of cats and eventually it took off and continued it's play making amongst the silver birches.

If I was native American or Australian aboriginal then I would probably consider crashing birds a portentous sign. 'These are the days of miracles and wonders, this is a long distance call'.

Homage to a Hound- Crafnant Valley

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