My Star of Gold
To make an issue, and get excited about what at first seems unexplainable without ever thinking through what could be the cause of certain events that happen to you in this world we live in, is perhaps what many would describe as a ‘gut reaction’ that has, when thought through, more than likely a very simple explanation.
The majority of things are reasonably rational in this world, but some things are not. Many is the time that I have wondered and pondered an explanation to some of the events that have happened to me in my life. The incident I am recalling I will just tell you what happened, it’s then up to you to draw your own conclusions. If you have an explanation that to you may be obvious, I would very much like to hear what you have to say.
I can remember back to a time far beyond my reason to remember. A time when I hadn’t realised the meaning to anything that life had to offer, perhaps four or five years old. My elder sister usually had charge of me, and this was a time that was just that, a sunny afternoon spent whiling away the balmy hours in the tall grass verge opposite our home.
I seem to remember boundaries to my world, the apple orchard at the top of our road in those days being one of them, we never ventured further than the last house on our street, about ten houses up, the farm houses in the distance looked miles away to me. Then there were fields of cabbages or brussel-sprouts or some such vegetables growing in vast quantities. That was a boundary, no further. Across the road in front of our house was another boundary; there were more fields and another orchard full of trees with a fence around it that my small frame could just about squeeze under. I remember sitting on the grass verge in front of that fence opposite our house with sis’ one day making daisy chains in the summer sunshine, it was a time when mischief was not one of my pastimes, that, without doubt, came later. I was quite content to just sit there in the clumps of grass that bordered the field.
Down the road, that was never used by vehicles in those days, just tractors and farm lorries, I never thought it went anywhere, it exceeded my boundary, no cars went past our house, you had to be rich to own a car and there wasn’t many rich folks round our way, so our road was pretty quiet all things considered.
That afternoon all those years ago, I heard the distinctive sound of horse’s hoofs coming up the road, even way back then there was an enquiring mind developing underneath a mop of blond hair that I had, when it turned a dirty brownish colour I can’t remember, but it was definitely blond, there are photographs to prove it.
Anyway, up I jump to see this large white horse; there again it could have been grey, but I like to remember it as white, it was coming towards sis and me.
You have to understand I was only about three foot nothing, this huge animal snorting and puffing down at me I remember was quite frightening, and ever since I have had an unhealthy fear of them and they seem to know this, so I usually give them a wide birth, but I do admire their muscular structure, so long as there is space for me to run if need be.
Sitting astride this animal was a beautiful young woman with a grey shawl around her shoulders, as the years have passed my mind has probably exaggerated her beauty, but to me then as she looked down at me from that great height, the sun behind her gave a halo of light all around her as she sat there, and I immediately had the vision of an angel. I knew about angels you see from my Sunday school teacher, and the pictures she had shown us as we listened to her stories each Sunday afternoon was just like this lady that was looking at me and smiling.
The way she looked at me with glassy eyes, bending over to reach down to me from her elevated position astride this magnificent animal. I think of her face now as serene, the sun behind casting her face in shade but illuminating her dark brown hair around her head, small as I was, I remember being transfixed and holding my hands out to her but not quite reaching, the desire to just touch this angel so great. She held my gaze and didn’t say a word.
I turned away from her with reluctance and found myself walking over to the fire buckets that hung on the fence on big iron hooks bordering the field, by the side was a standpipe put there during the last war. The red buckets were empty, full of dust from many years of neglect. Even then in days gone past it gave me great joy to find a stick from somewhere and clout each one of these buckets kicking up a din that would annoy everyone within earshot. Reaching up to one of them I managed to lift it off its hook and carried it over to the standpipe. I had to wash it out getting quite wet in the process, the water splashed up and out of the top because the pressure was very fierce and for a little toddler such as I was difficult to control, I managed to get some water in the bucket and with a great deal of effort, both hands holding the handle, struggled back to her as the metal rim bumped against my knees. With relief I put the bucket of water where the horse could drink it, and once again this lovely lady stretched out her hand to me. Strangely, I found I could quite easily reach out and hold it this time not even having to stand on tiptoe. I couldn’t feel anything though, just a kind of warm soft delicate touch, it reminded me of the floating dandelion seed heads that I tried to catch in the late summer breeze as they floated above my head, jumping up to catch them they would hop out of the way as I closed my hands around them.
I watched a bracelet full of charms fall down around her wrist and I remember staring at them, some of them glinted and caught the sunshine as if they were on fire. Each one was different from the other; there was a horseshoe, a heart, what looked like a purse and a star that I seemed to remember I paid particular attention to.
I looked up into a lovely unblemished face as a tear emerged from a dark brown bewitching eye, it slowly travelled down a rosy cheek to eventually drop off the bottom of her chin. So gradually it fell, falling and splashing onto my hand, I was fascinated, it was warm and silky spreading down through my tiny fingers, something inside of me prevented a reaction to wipe the moisture it left away, soaking into my skin and drying almost immediately.
There was disappointment and bewilderment and as I looked up to question the strange tingling it left on my hand, she had gone though, no horse, nothing, an empty road in front of me which I found myself standing in the middle of.
Turning round there was sis still making her daisy chain. The fire bucket was in the middle of the road empty, no water, not even wet.
As I went to pick the bucket up, I opened my hand to grab hold of the handle and the little charm in the shape of a star that had caught my attention on her bracelet made a clatter as it fell onto the metal at the bottom of the bucket.
I picked the bucket up and removed the charm, putting it in my pocket, as I replaced the bucket on the hook I noticed how dry everything was around the standpipe, no water that I know I spilled and splashed all over the place.
Sis looked at me rather oddly I remember, but carried on with her daisy chain.
Why were my little white socks that my mum had put on me that morning with the toes protruding out of my little sandals wet through? Was it the moisture from the depths of the tall grass on that very hot sultry sunny afternoon?
The thing is I carried that little charm all wrapped in a tiny hanky of my sisters that I must have pinched from her and stuffed tightly in a weights cigarette packet for many years.
There is more, even stranger than that. You might think a figment of a young imagination? I don’t think so, it was so vivid and has over the years become even more so as I relate different events that I couldn’t explain, they all go back to that encounter when I was so young. My dreams at that time were all about the clouds, all about the stars and how each time I felt lifted to float above my troubles. I could see down below me the trauma of my life’s ups and downs all disappearing leaving clear the road ahead, no matter what that held. Underneath my pillow was my little star that no one knew about, that was my secret from the world. It seemed to give me a comfort totally unexplainable; Mum, I’m sure knew it was there, when she made my bed she must have noticed it and had a look to make sure I hadn’t started smoking, but it was always returned to the same place and nothing was ever said or the contents of that cigarette packet questioned.
There was the time I had the ‘mumps,’ terrible nightmares started and kept me awake until I reached under my pillow for my little star, clutching it in my hand as I fell asleep, only to float above the horrors and see them disappear. So familiar were my dreams I seemed to know them off by heart.
Who and what was it that presented me with all those wonderful memories I have had in the years that followed? Was that star meant for me to find, purposely placed or given with the knowledge of future events? It has been a lovely thought to hang onto.
I do remember where it ended up; trying one day to impress a pretty girl that I took a fancy to in later years, I gave it to her to put on her charm bracelet, hoping I suppose she would take notice of the little hooligan that was always following her. It was gone, I had given it away, and it obviously didn’t work its charm for me anymore, because she totally ignored me after I had given her the present of my precious little golden star.
Many years later, after growing up, (It was in my travelling around the country period), I was walking along an isolated country lane after sampling one of Wainright’s favourite walks feeling quite melancholy but never the less uplifted in the beautiful scenery this land we live in has to offer, when passing a small cottage I noticed the net curtains in one of the windows being pulled aside. Standing behind the glass was a young woman of astounding beauty, draped in a grey shawl, her arm raised to hold the curtain to one side she very sheepishly smiled and touched the end of her very fine gold chain around her neck, hanging down between her well developed open front, catching the sunlight shining through the window was the little gold star I had once treasured in my youth.
In an instant she had gone, the curtains fell back to shield her from my gaze and I was left alone to ponder on the enchantment that life very often puts in our path that we take.