January, the month of Janus, who was an ancient Italian deity; guardian of doorways, gates and beginnings, usually represented with two faces so he looks both forward and backwards – into the future and into the past. Ma says January is her least favourite month despite the early snowdrops.
Once again, Richard the Stone Mason who set the ancient cross above the oratory, has come back to carve an acorn to go on the gable end in front of the house, to match the existing one on the roof of the Great Chamber. The acorn is a symbol of strength and power, appearing only on a fully mature oak. Often considered a symbol of patience needed to attain goals over a long period of time, it represents perseverance and hard work. Looking at the various gable ends on the roof at Cothay, only two have acorns adorning them; five more have only the plinth on which the acorn should sit. One wonders the reason – did in past times they fall off or were they never carved? Perhaps eventually we will be able to adorn the whole roof with the forgotten symbols. The guardianship and beautifying of Cothay is a life-time’s work. The great oak which stands facing the house beside the river is a timely reminder of the past; perhaps planted when the house was built in 1485, or did a passing bird lose the acorn? In reality, you never own a beautiful house; you look after it for future generations, for those who will take your place.
With every passing year, the faded beauty of the house lingers in the mind like the plumage of a bird. The house glistens in the pale winter sun, waiting and listening for the future.