Chinese New Year is the last new moon before Spring — did you know that? I didn’t. So since I am writing a haiku a day this February, here is one to celebrate The Year of the Pig. And there’a a porky story for you at the end too 🙂
travelers head home
this last new moon of winter
a feast of trotters
I don’t need flowers for Valentines. The best flowers are not picked or cut but enjoyed and left to thrive. And in The Conservatory at Wallington Hall there are beautiful blooms all year round! Even on a dull February day, it shines with colour and form. And of course there are snowdrops too — be it teensy little ones and 9ft tall basket ones. Already some crocuses and daffodils are pushing through. It might be cold but it’s bright. Take a walk somewhere you love, with someone you love.
This is why I love February.
And we are now in the Year of the Pig — so I give you a story and wish you L O V E and a great Year of the Pig!
The Old Pig
Nobody truly recalls what the village pub was called before it became The Old Pig. Some say it was the Wheat Sheaf, some The Bargeman’s Rest and others The Horse and Dog which in itself shows the diversity of the Suffolk countryside.
A tiny piglet wandered in one night and the locals put it in a log basket by the fire and fed it buns in milk, and cider and although enquiries were made, none of the pig farmers around reckoned to have lost a piglet and since none kept Old Spots, his origins really were a mystery. Obvious he was an old spot with his lovely long, white ears and snout and he had just one great, perfect, black spot on his hind quarters, yet strangely nobody called him Spot or gave him a name of any kind. He was just The Pig. And what a handsome pig he was!
He was easily pub trained and the locals dribbled beer or cider into his dish, left part of their ploughman’s lunch or whatever fare was going, in his plate, and gradually started saying they were going ‘down The Pig’. He got to know the regulars and greeted them when they arrived. There was nothing he liked more than a tummy rub and chat and he got plenty of both. A lot of folk took their troubles to him and he listened attentively as they stroked his ears and they always felt better for it.
‘That ol’ pig could near as damn talk’ locals said.
The vicar observed that it was probably a good thing he couldn’t! But he reckoned the pig was doing half his job for him.
Visitors were much amused when greeted with a friendly grunt and a nuzzle though if he took a dislike to some stranger they were very likely to be shown the door. Of the three pubs in the village, The Pig soon began to be most popular.
When the pig got sick the vet treated him for free. Couldn’t have the pig being ill! And it wasn’t as if anybody owned him!
Every winter local knitters made him a colourful Christmas jumper which he’d wear to the service on Christmas Eve. In spring every farm within a radius of five miles had an Old Spot or ten. In Summer he took first prize at the county show and in Autumn he got the run of the orchards because he was so very fond of windfalls and everybody was fond of him.
A decade on, an artist was commissioned to paint him and the portrait was hung above the bar. There was a huge party. No pig ever had a better life. And it is fair to say too, that no pig ever had a longer life either. He lived just over 24 years, as near as anyone could judge it, and never uttered the secrets he’d been privy to. But weighing in at over 600 lbs, there was only one appropriate send-off – a hog roast! The entire village came, cider was drunk, baps were sliced. They toasted the old pig even as they ate him and never a tastier pig was known and the vicar assured them his squeak had gone straight to Heaven. A new sign was hung over the door and from that time on the pub was officially called ‘The Old Pig’ though it’s other name had long been forsaken. Some say it was The Keys, others The Bittern’s Boom – I dare say it doesn’t really matter.