Advent: December 17th

Just another photo I like.

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Friends

This is our old pony Cobweb with her new friend Boysey. Cobby has lived with us for around 17-18 years – we can’t really remember how long! She’s very old, 35 years old which even for a native pony is good. Most of the time she’s lived with us she’s been an only pony but horses are herd animals and thrive better with others so it’s really nice that she now has a friend to keep her company.

When Boysey’s owner comes to take him out for a ride she rushes around whinnying for him and I have to soothe her and reassure her that he is coming back again. They don’t always share things nicely and their needs are different so they don’t actually live in the same field. But all the same, they like to touch noses over the fence and be a mini “herd” like that and are very fond of each other. They’ve both benefited from like-minded company. Friendship is as important to animals as it is to humanity.

It seems a good photo for today. It’s 19 years today that we moved here from my Shropshire home town. I was 18 and it was hard to leave behind my friends and start over someplace new and go from urban living to the wide open, sparsely populated spaces of rural Wales. The demographic is very different here in every respect and it took some getting used to, especially as a teenager when you’re changing and growing so much emotionally and mentally. At times I struggled and more so as my friends gradually moved away from my home town too and went to University and started new lives elsewhere. Sometimes I felt it was hard to make new friends where I had no common ground, no shared history. To fit in. In time I settled and discovered the rich community around me. But it was hard won and took time.

Today I had to go back to town to do some shopping and errands and coincidentally managed to meet up with one of my childhood friends who moved back to Shropshire some years ago. We don’t see each other very often at all and for many years we’d lost contact completely. It was good to meet up and talk about old times, old places from the perspective of adulthood and the acquired “wisdom” that life teaches you; sometimes with hard knocks, sometimes with soft caresses. We both know we’ve changed a lot through the life experiences that have happened to us over the 28 years since we first met.

It was good also to look at her face and see my childhood friend and the qualities I admired in her then still here now; her generosity, her calmness, her kindness to both her siblings and her friends transformed into the grown woman and mother she is now. Different and yet still reassuringly the same.

I’m lucky to have a few friends from my childhood still who are still part of my life now. We may no longer “live in the same field” but it’s good for the soul to occasionally “touch noses over the fence” as it were and remind ourselves of the qualities that bind us living creatures together and our shared histories that forged our early characters. That which makes us step outside of ourselves and see others as they really are.

Friendship.

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