This photo was taken on Milverton Hill, Leamington Spa between St James’s Church Old Milverton and the Saxon Mill, Warwick.
At about 4.30pm on Friday 7 June I walked with my two teenage children through the churchyard to reach this field.
A late summer afternoon in the English countryside is such a quiet, luminous, poignant time.
And it’s one of the loveliest times to be on Milverton Hill. You breathe in a green woody scent, a fragrance of light and sunshine.
As we walked through the churchyard to reach the field, we found a plaque in the grass:
8th June 1995-23rd April 2009
aged 13 years
sweet, rare, exquisite
Ruby was in my daughter Abigail’s year at school, and Abigail knew Ruby and her story, as many others in our area do, whose hearts were touched by Ruby’s three year struggle with cancer, and her death in 2009.
Sarah, cheerful and pleasant, said to Abigail, “You’re the age Ruby would have been. Tomorrow is her 18th birthday.”
Ruby’s dog Gracie was with them too. Propped against the flower containers by the plaque is a photo which shows this family pet with Ruby 5 years ago.
As we walked out through the gate onto Milverton Hill, beyond the church, I couldn’t help comparing the shortness of Ruby’s life to the transience of golden fields in the English countryside.
In this lovely field, popular with walkers, the cobweb tracery of Shepherd’s-Purse flowers, too, appear between the golden rapeseed flowers. Each petal is silk to the touch, and you feel the cool breeze as you face towards the church. Turning back again to face down towards the Guy’s Cliffe House ruin and the Saxon Mill, the trees seem sculpted against a radiant horizon of intense clarity, each golden flower backlit.
Golden fields don’t last long. But they do reappear each summer. And so will this little memorial to Ruby touch many hearts through future generations.