By JanetMayes

In the churchyard

I love the way the churchyard, with its many old and weathered gravestones, sits so comfortably on the side of the valley, looking down over the bottom of the village and up to the ridge of the downs. The church is medieval, with various later additions, so this has been a burial ground for centuries, and it's a very peaceful place with its trees, brambles and, in summer, its profusion of wild flowers. It's maintained but not manicured, and feels to me as good a place as one can hope to be laid to rest. 

Today's was my first walk in several days, in bright sunshine but with an air temperature little above zero and the wind cutting through my trousers and gloves. The low winter sun was illuminating the gravestones particularly well, so I spent a little while seeing which ones I could decipher and pondering the lives, many of them short by today's standards, which they recorded. "William Pettit, late of this place surgeon" was 64 when he died in 1739, and his finely carved headstone, less weathered than many, has what I suspect were some of the tools of his trade slipped between the traditional skulls - there's a closer view in the extra. His neighbour John Griffen was only in the "18th year of his age" when he "departed this life the 2nd July 1725".

I left by the front gate into Duck Street and walked down to the Nailbourne, hoping the freezing weather might have made the squelchy mud which has overtaken most of the footpaths a little more passable. I was surprised to find the first section of the path flooded: the winterbourne is in spate, the summer's dry bed having filled with water almost to the top of its banks, but it's not yet flooding the valley. Instead, the very high water table after the autumn and winter's interminable rain means that water is now oozing to the surface in the lowest lying areas. In this village, winter flooding normally only affects the lowest lying back gardens, but further along the valley the high water table sometimes floods homes by rising through cellars and floors. The skulls in the churchyard are more securely located.

The theme of today's Wide Wednesday challenge is "old" - thank you Bob'sBlips for hosting this. 

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