I have always liked this sculpture of St. Modwen, patron saint of Burton upon Trent. It is part of the Washlands Sculpture Trail on Andressey Island, an island formed where the river divides into two branches. It is by John Fortnum and was unveiled in 1995. Larger than life at some 14ft (4.2 metres) tall, official records simply describe it as ‘A statue of St Modwen without limbs’. Little is made of the fact that it is a wind sculpture whose head and shoulders turn to the prevailing wind and sounds are created as the wind passes through the steel strips forming the cloak. The statue is in a quieter part of the trail and washlands. I quite like this misty morning shot which gives the sculpture an ethereal quality. A lone figure patrolling the boundary or taking an early morning walk.
St. Modwen was a 7th century Irish noblewoman who built a chapel on the island in the Trent, and founded Burton Abbey. She spent seven years in Burton before embarking on a pilgrimage to Rome. Upon her return she built churches in the area and founded Burton Abbey. It is believed there was a well in the abbey with mineral rich water which was perfect for brewing, thus the very start of brewing in Burton, later to become the brewing capital of Britain. Today, the town’s parish church, St Modwen’s, is situated between the market place and the river and very close to the original site of the Burton Abbey.
Two years ago one of my first blog posts was about snowdrops and included the quote “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” The words were appropriate then but are even more fitting in February 2021. Lockdown has made the winter seem very long. Any signs of spring, and the hope and promise of relaxation of restrictions, are welcome.
Last week we were grateful to receive our COVID vaccinations. We attended the Pirelli Stadium, home of Burton Albion Football Club and currently being used as a vaccination hub for the town. The process was everything we could wish for – efficient, well-organised and friendly. We should be offered our second injection by early May by which time spring will be in full swing. For us, this was a sign that better times are sure to follow.
Our few chats and phone calls with others, exchanging pleasantries with fellow walkers in the area and evesdropping on other people’s gossip during our walks show the main topic of conversation is, you’ve guessed it, ‘the jab’. ‘Have you had yours yet?’ (Yes) ‘Where did you go?’ (Pirelli Stadium) ‘Which did you get, Pfizer or Astra Zeneca?’ (Pfizer). ‘Have you got your second appointment yet?’ (No). ‘Did you get any side effects?’ (None at all).
So back to the humble snowdrop. It is often seen as a symbol of rebirth, hope and the ability to overcome challenges in life. The snowdrop can also be a symbol to show sympathy for somebody who is struggling. What an appropriate flower for this current time, so if you are looking for signs that after this long winter, spring is sure to follow, look no further and join us in Snowdrop Wood.
“Trees have personalities. They’re individuals. Tall or bushy, thick or thin, well-established or struggling, they’re like people, each with its own character. Sometimes as I walk around, I look at people and try to work out what sort of tree they are. Just for fun of course.”
Eddie Askew, Love is a Wild Bird
“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful”. Alice Walker
Valentine’s Day, and as the songs goes, ‘Love is in the air’. But let’s put aside for a moment the cards, red roses, romantic meals and chocolates, and think about the fundamentals. The Apostle Paul was a hardened and experienced traveller. He wrote lengthy and often complex letter to all those he felt needed a bit of guidance. Had he been restricted to the back of a postcard he would have struggled. His ‘word count’ would certainly have been curtailed and would have perhaps focused his mind on getting to the crux (or should I say heart) of the matter.
As Mark Twain suggests, I think writing just a few words can require more mental effort than writing a thousand.
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”. Mark Twain