Left in Preston

Left at Café Ritazza, Preston Railway Station


Excerpt of The Last Days of Moomin Manor, Words & Pictures by The Snork Maiden.

photo Attachment-1


An excerpt from The Last Days of Moomin Manor


Words & Pictures by The Snork Maiden


It is about now, half way through the year that the fruit starts to take recognisable shape and swell on the trees. Those apples that aren't whole, or that are destined to fail in some way will be automatically shed. They hide in the grass like green marbles and catch on the blades of my lawn mower; though little goes to waste and the glossy baby rabbits that jump with joy through the orchard, their tails a brilliant white flash amongst the green, pick up the cast offs and run off with them like treasure.


The blackcurrants will be ready in a few weeks and hang like jewels from their branches. As the days of summer grow warmer and drier their blush will deepen to ruby and then eventually wine colour. This year I do not want to collect these jewels. I will leave them for the hens and the birds to forage. The same goes for the tenacious prickly gooseberry. It takes heart to pick and gather this fruit, and then lovingly createa pie or tart. I have no heart for that this year.


The boughs are starting to sway and dip with the weight of the berries; their offering. The hens have made tunnels through them in order to create the perfect position to reach upwards with their beaks and wrestle their prize. I do not mind. None of us will be here for very much longer. This small orchard, lovingly designed and planted with hope half a century ago, will be gone. It will become just the ground beneath somebody's feet, and give no clue to what it was before, or worse; a road. The earth flattened and laid out like a corpse and covered with a layer that stops the breath of the land in an instant. But this year, there will still be food. There will be blueberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries.


The greengage will be the first tree to ripen; the berries almost impossible to reach before the wasps arrive to feast and leave them a mess of sticky scars. Then comes the plum closely followed by the damson. The damson trees flush with so much fruit that buckets and trugs can overflow with their soft velvety shapes and yet there will still be more to harvest. It is inevitable that some are left to shrink and wither on the branch until they tumble on to the damp earth as autumn approaches.


The apples and pears are the last to ripen, the highest branches jutting out in to the September sky, laden with their bounty. Some are so red the colour seems quite artificial; a shade rarely seen in the natural world.

The horses and donkeys enjoy this time of year, the surplus fruit handed to them in piles to nuzzle through and gratefully chomp; pale green saliva swinging from their mouths as they feast.


When all of this is done, it is just the windfall that is left; it litters the ground as the temperatures drop. The rotting flesh of the apples is speared with perfect holes by the beak of the magpie. And then we wait with patience and hope through the silence of winter before the trees explode with foaming fronds of blossom to being the cycle all over again.


It is difficult to imagine the heartbeat of this place stopping. Not with a gradual, natural slowing but with the irresistible violent pressure of the hand of progress. This is not my progress, but the draining of the colour of a dream, until all of its hues of pink and scarlet and ochre fade to black and white.