A harvest from the deep

  

We gather on the Sunday following the autumn equinox, that moment of balance between light and dark when we celebrate the completion of the harvest.  Our efforts are over for another year; whatever we sowed in spring and nurtured through summer has already borne its fruit and soon we must begin the cycle again.  The sun spreads a silver skirt on the river and a light mist softens the landscape.  The tide is low, laying bare the rocks that have wrecked many ships and a kaleidoscope of pebbles and empty shells.  Gulls mewl from the breakwater and a cormorant sweeps upriver.

This town is built on river, rock and sea.  Its motto messis ab altis means ‘harvest from the deep’.  Emerging from a handful of fishermen’s huts in the 13th century, it went on to harvest not only fish, but coal and salt.  That there is a town here at all is a result of what has been harvested from deep within earth and ocean.  But in this time of gathering, we come together as a town to remember those fishermen who lost their lives to bring in the harvest.  Today, a statue will be unveiled as a memorial to all those fishermen who never returned from the sea.

The air vibrates with local songs of sea and river and the statue is unveiled to a fanfare of ship’s horns.  His name is Fiddler’s Green.  Fiddler’s Green is an old fisherman’s legend, a version of heaven where the fiddle never stops playing and the rum never stops flowing.  He is positioned so that he will always gaze out to sea, recollecting those that are still out there.  And greeting those that return safely.  We absorb his grave features and the stories they represent, as a sweet voice conjures a rendition of the old Fiddler’s Green folk song, before the blessing of the memorial with the seafarer’s version of psalm 23.

The Lord is my pilot; I shall not drift.
He lights me across the dark waters. He steers me through the deep channels.
He keeps my log. He guides me by the Star of Holiness for His Name’s sake.
As I sail through the storms and tempests of life I will d:read no danger; for You are near me; Your love and care shelter me.
You prepare a haven before me in the Homeland of Eternity;
You quieten the waves with oil; my ship rides calmly.
Surely sunlight and starlight shall be with me wherever I sail,
and at the end of my voyaging I shall rest in the port of my God. 

It’s easy to forget how important the harvest is and what it costs to bring it in.  Fishing is the most dangerous peace-time occupation in the UK.  After the unveiling, we wander back along the fish quay, thronged with people enjoying a lunch of fish and chips.  Perhaps today more than any other they will understand the price of the harvest and give thanks for it.

This year in my small back yard we have grown some vegetables in pots.  The broccoli did well, but in late August, I rounded the corner to a couple of Brussels sprouts plants in pots, to find them no more than skeletons.  Crawling on every remaining stalk and leaf were caterpillars.  Because I don’t rely on these for food, I was excited by seeing so many caterpillars and that a butterfly had chosen to lay her eggs in our yard.  But at this time of year, it was also a reminder of how easily the harvest can fail.  What would my ancestors have felt if their food was wiped out by insects?  And what hardships would they have faced to feed their communities?

But the harvest isn’t only about remembrance and acknowledging hard work.  It is also a celebration.  There are many kinds of harvest.  While I always give thanks for the food harvest at this time of year, my personal harvest is a creative and personal one.  I look back over a year in which I struggled with my creativity and expect to find little worth harvesting.  Yet there were moments worth celebrating: an invitation to the first Write Now event in London, a story published in an anthology and being an editor’s pick on Discover.  And then there were those experiences that fed my creativity: a glimpse of a kingfisher, the hush of Christmas day, the birth of spiderlings, a walk to an overgrown bridge, the discovery of a rare flower…

We all have a personal harvest to celebrate.  Three years ago, I held a harvest festival on Harvesting Hecate in a shared celebration of creativity.  Since then, I’ve also gathered a whole host of new blogging friends, some very recently.   So, please join me in a harvest celebration.  In the comments, share the creative achievement you are most proud of since the last autumn equinox, big or small.  For those of you in the southern hemisphere, who are just moving into spring, what do you hope to achieve?  Most importantly, leave a link to your favourite of all the posts you’ve written this year.  The harvest isn’t about celebrating alone, it’s about celebrating as a community.  So as well as leaving a link, please also follow at least one, to a blogger you’ve never met before and perhaps a fruitful new relationship will begin.

158 thoughts on “A harvest from the deep

  1. Your posts are always a pleasure to read Andrea, thank you! So packed with beautiful metaphors and surprises. Love the idea of a creative community. Very recently I’ve been lucky enough to have my account of an autumn walk up Shipley Glen published in a magazine, so I am tremendously grateful for and proud of that 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah yes, I remember the way my muscles relaxed as I was there with you on the sands. No I didn’t write the psalm, it’s probably been in existence for a long time and is the version used at the fishermen’s mission – but I loved the way the words had been adapted.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Andrea, this is one of my favorite blogs and anytime you have written something new, I can’t wait to read it. My husband and father were both career naval officers so I particularly like the fisherman’s version of the 23 Psalm. We have a similar hymn called Eternal Father. Here are the first 2 verse:
    Verse 1: Eternal Father, strong to save,
    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
    Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
    Its own appointed limits keep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

    Verse 2: O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
    And hushed their raging at Thy word,
    Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
    And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
    For those in peril on the sea!

    There are also verses for pilots and for the Marines who so often serve on Navy ships.

    I am not sure which of my blog posts is my favorite. This one seemed to reasonate with the most readers. https://equipsblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/too-bee-or-not-too-bee/
    Sorry for the long comment. Happy New Yeaar

    Pat

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You give harvest new meaning on many levels. I like that your town exists because of harvest from the sea and earth. The statue is a fine tribute to those who have been lost at sea. Your personal harvests have been impressive. I have none other that I am still blogging! I won’t list a favorite post but will choose to follow randomly one who has commented here. What a good idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your lovely post has put me in a wonderful fall mindset, and the timing is perfect for a harvest celebration because I just finished the outline for a novel I’m working on. So I’m proud of that creative achievement as well as the novel that’s with my publisher now and another one whose first draft is waiting for me to start its second. As a result I haven’t written many blog posts this past year, but instead have put that time and energy into my books.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent idea: Harvesting creativity & sharing the harvest!
    As one of your ‘new blogging friends’ (via Jill!) I’m honored to offer http://laurabrunolilly.com/peace-post-max-richter-herbie-hancock-and-todays-world/ as my favorite post written this year.
    And
    The creative achievement of which I am most proud from fall equinox 2016 – fall equinox 2017 is the fact that my project ‘Swimming with Swans: the music and stories of our three year journey between homes’ is beginning to be presented to the public at large. (to date, a local presentation and the near completion of a portion of the music in an EP – Swimming with Swans: Goat Suite.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve just been over to visit that post Laura as it was one you’d written before I ‘met’ you – very interesting post but I’ve left my thoughts over there. Congratulations on the culmination of Swimming with Swans – I’ll look forward to hearing more about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful posting, Andrea! And wishing you and yours a cornucopia of every blessing!
    My favourite personal blog is more so for the person it was written for than for the standard of expression! I wrote a poem and sent it to Cynthia Jobin (she blogged as “littleoldladywho”) who unbeknown to me had received news that day that she had terminal cancer. I left the poem there, and she had the grace to comment in the comments! She died about 3 weeks later. The link is:
    https://weaveaweb.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/poem-24-a-great-vowel-shift-for-a-friend-who-is-poorly/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Psalm 23, my favorite Andrea, nice to read the Seafarer’s version.
    Supermarkets, they provide so much, but the other side of the coin is they’ve removed so much. I try to juggle my existence between nature and necessity, it’s a fine line, how easy it is for one to rub out the other. Hard work indeed, but it’s what makes us, I wouldn’t swap for all the tea in China.
    Keep well.

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  8. What a lovely idea to have a harvest festival Andrea. Your blog posts are among the ones I always look out for and enjoy reading. You always bring something new to think about. I guess I fall into your category of new blogging friends, and am delighted to share my own mini-achievement this past year of starting up my second blog as a means of expressing my own creativity a little, and in some small way maybe encouraging others to enjoy the wonderful world around us, e.g. https://lifesentences.blog/2017/09/01/forest-bathing-what-why-how-where/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Denzil and congratulations on starting up another blog – that’s something I don’t think I could do. I remember this post because I so love the concept of forest bathing and anything that can bring us a better appreciation of the natural world.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Wonderful idea Andrea and yes I’ve been deep into pondering the harvest and how we celebrate or mark it. Thank you also for a shared taste of the place I still consider to hold my ancestral roots, its added a layer of understanding of its “folk” and the themes that have preoccupied, challenged and “grown” them (like a harvest unto themselves). Here’s a link to the post that quickly springs to mind (one of my shorter ones 😉 ) entitled “All my spaces are love”…https://spinningthelight.org/2017/07/13/all-my-spaces-are-love/

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  10. This post resonates particularly deeply with me, Andrea as many in my family are and were fishermen…thankfully none lost at sea, but some near misses, many dangerous moments. A beautiful seafarers version of the psalm and a moving statue of the single sailor.

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  11. A wonderful post, Andrea! I watched the unveiling of the fishermen’s memorial last night on t.v. It’s so beautiful and the unveiling was moving. I’m not feeling so good at the mo (bronchitis) so will return with my links, etc.

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  12. A great idea Andrea. You always set us all a fine example of generosity towards other bloggers. We do thank you for the way you’ve supported our small efforts over the past months. Encouragement is such a valuable gift and is much appreciated. My own favourite post was trying re-capturing the magical moment of that ‘first fine careless rapture’ in an early May morning alone with the dawn chorus. https://wordpress.com/post/alisteningheartblog.wordpress.com/5922

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  13. Wonderful writing ! Celebrating harvest….. a lovely idea. Finding caterpillars on something you have grown with pain, is painful really but being tolerant to “These tiny destroyers” is wonderful. But the butterflies only take away their bit of share from what they contribute by pollinating. Nature is reciprocal after all !

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  14. Beautiful writing ! Celebrating harvesting harvesting festival is great. Finding caterpillars on something you have grown with pain is really painful. But butterflies only take away their bit of share from what the contribute by pollinating. Nature is reciprocal after all.

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  15. Thank you Andrea for the spirit of community among “bloggers” that you are fostering and the opportunity to reflect along with you on our own personal harvests. I do not have one particularly creative piece of writing to point to, I’m just happy to finally be writing again on a somewhat regular basis. I started leonaandalexander.wordpress.com several years ago, but I never could find my voice, because I was searching for something in my life that others might find interesting. A few months ago I decided “to heck with it,” I’ll write about the things that inspire me, that impact me, that interest me and if anyone else finds commonality or enjoyment in those same things then that’s just gravy! I appreciate you being my first follower, and look forward to your posts and your perspective.

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  16. Congratulations on all your achievements this year, Andrea — your story in the 21st century ghost story anthology was aces (I know you’re looking as forward as I am to entertaining more of those ideas as we enter “the October country”)… And every one of your posts is a marvel. 🙂

    I think my own milestone this year was to attend a major critique workshop that really tested my self-esteem but also injected new life into my novel-in-progress. I haven’t come up with many stories or poems this year, but I was fairly proud that I managed to turn my post-Trump frustration into a decent piece of dystopian fiction: https://shesperjansen.com/2017/02/25/short-story-jackie-wilson-said/

    Looking forward to exploring the wealth of other blogs here – happy harvest!

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    • Thanks Sunshine, yes bring on October 🙂 I had a similar experience with my novel in progress when I went on a writing course – the questions and critique helped me to really move it on and get it finished. I remember your excellent, very chilling but believable story.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Andrea, I love the story of the statue. Thank you for sharing.

    I didn’t think I had any accomplishments since I published my book in November 2016. But, because you got me to think, I realized a couple. I dieted and lost ten pounds (but have 10 more to go). My husband and I accomplished growing our first garden (ever) this year, and produced lots of tomatoes, red peppers, baby eggplant, Swiss chard and zucchini.

    I don’t really know which post is my favorite from this year, but I have a couple favorites from other years. I got a lot of supportive feedback for sharing about my infertility journey back in 2013 (The Road Less Traveled). I’ll just leave my homepage link. https://loreezlane.wordpress.com/

    Thank you for this opportunity to share and meet new bloggers. Blessings to you, Miss Andrea.

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  18. Andrea, what an inspiring blog. Your detailed writing always makes me wonder, almost with my mouth ajar 😉 those caterpillars are not a welcomed sight in my veggie garden and very hard to eradicate though. Always makes me wonder how generations survived without modern technologies….Happy Monday and thanks for all the inspiration you bring with your words, wisdom, and observation.

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  19. This is quite beautiful, Andrea, and has quite lifted my spirits. My brother died unexpectedly three weeks ago and you remind that it will soon be time to turn inward and begin to write again. This will be good… x

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  20. My harvest this year was watching my family grow; specifically, watching my granddaughter grow. I wrote a poem to reflect on my gratitude for being part of this season in her life and awareness of how quickly the seasons pass; as you say, we have sowed and nurtured, and then another cycle begins. Here’s my link:
    http://wp.me/p4jb00-1dK

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  21. What a moving ceremony that must have been! I think the statue of the fisherman is wonderful. Your post is very interesting and beautifully written as always and I find your idea of a writer’s harvest of creativity very satisfying and worthy of celebration. I don’t think I have managed to be at all creative this past year and the only thing I can be pleased about is that I have been useful to my elderly mother and have helped my younger daughter through a difficult year. I have written many fewer posts than usual but the following is the one that gave me most pleasure. https://asuffolklane.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/reydon-wood/
    Thank-you for introducing me to so many fabulous people here! I am in awe of you all!

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  22. What a lovely gathering in of people and posts, Andrea. I am pleased that I managed to restart my blogging a few weeks ago, but the creative achievement I am most pleased with is my new series on YouTube, From my desk. I am learning as I go. I was very happy with today’s Tuesday Prose reading https://youtu.be/5QGOGjtTDFc I am trying to improve my ability to speak without a script before I begin each reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Dear Andrea, this is such a wonderful post. I absolutely loved the seafarer’s version of psalm 23. We have heroes everywhere in everyone. The lives of fishermen are filled with heroic battles from the sea. Yet they are so simple in their way of living, true heroes, I believe.
    I loved the idea of ‘harvest celebration’. It’s wonderful to read the blogs of other bloggers. I’ve bookmarked this page as I’ve not been able to read them all, yet. 🙂

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  24. For me, this year’s allotment produce harvest has been much richer than my writing one! In fact, I’ve had so much produce that I’ve had to give some of it away, plus I have a freezer full of fruit and a cupboard full of preserves. That seafarers’ version of Psalm 23 is brilliant, and I haven’t heard it before. As for your caterpillars, it reminds me of how my son, when he was aged about 5, wanting me to grow nasturtiums not for their pretty flowers but because the cabbage white butterflies would lay eggs on them, which would hatch into caterpillars for him to keep in what he called his “caterpillary”. This turned out to be a veritable nursery for butterflies, full of cocoons, all of which hatched and we released to eat other people’s plants 😀

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  25. Beautiful writing, as usual Andrea…

    but you’ve given me such a hard choice!

    Starting a blog was just a scary experiment a few months ago that turned out better than I expected. However, even with all the approbation, I still consider only a few pieces as my best work and I have a hard time deciding which one represents my absolute best.

    In the end, I decided to honor your beautiful literary phrasing and reliance upon nature for object lessons and analogies by sharing “Soul Spring Magic”. It uses some of those same literary devices to convey the peace to be found by basking in the beauty of God’s creation and listening to His voice speaking through nature to soothe our soul during a tempestuous time. I wrote it almost two decades ago, but I still consider it to be one of the best pieces I’ve ever written.

    https://jamesclarkthenextiteration.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/soul-spring-magic/

    Thanks, Andrea, for the opportunity to share. You are greatly appreciated!

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    • Thanks James, it’s amazing how blogging grows from often humble beginnings into something we never expected when we began. I’m not surprised this is one of your favourites, it’s full of wonderful images of the bounty of nature and its ability to soothe the soul.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I follow a blog called Atlas Obscura that I highly recommend. It has wonderful posts on a variety of topics. I thought of you when I saw one of today’s posts: Tunstall, England
    Greenwich Meridian Trail: This long-distance walking route follows the Prime Meridian line as it passes through England.
    Here is the URL for this blog post. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/greenwich-meridian-trail?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=7d36565fc8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_09_27&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-7d36565fc8-66558217&ct=t()&mc_cid=7d36565fc8&mc_eid=b985bcb155

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  27. I always look forward to reading your blog posts, Andrea. This is another beautiful post and a lovely idea to share our creativity at this special time. I think the most creative thing I have done this year is to start my blog. It has taken a lot of courage to begin sharing my writing with others. Another act of bravery was submitting a short story to a competition. For that reason, I’d like to share this post:
    https://diaryofawouldbenovelist.wordpress.com/2017/09/17/the-goat-road/
    Thank you for providing this opportunity.

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  28. Pingback: A harvest from the deep – Sporting Jazz Music

  29. Harvest is a time to pull in and pull up. It’s a time to make use of all that we’ve sown. That’s why I am using September to write poetry again. It struck me as interesting that I did the Tupelo 30/30 in September two years ago, so I am sure that this is about fall and about it being harvest time. Lovely post, Andrea. Your caterpillars are called tent worms where I come from in Michigan. They become moths, and they strike terror in the heart of many tree-lovers because they eat up so many leaves. But you have reminded me that they have their own lives to live and their own goals!

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  30. I’ll be singing Fiddlers’ Green in my head all day now! I love that song and the new-to-me version of the 23rd Psalm. It’s such a nice idea to use autumn as a time to take a look back at the big picture of the year. I think that big picture is always going to make us feel better about the things we’ve managed to accomplish.

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  31. You are such a delightful, brilliant, kind writer and blogger. I always look forward to your own harvests, and now for you to have us all share here is simply amazing. I look forward to looking at the other links here in the comments section. Many of the bloggers I follow, but there are a few new ones for me to discover.
    This year (from fall to fall) I harvested an illustrated children’s book BIRDS OF PARADISE. It took many years to reach full production, but once it was published (harvested) in April, oh, the hard intensive gardening was so worth the effort.
    I had a hard time choosing one of my favorite blog posts. That’s either a very arrogant thing to say, or it’s good, because it means I have such a fun time sharing my flashes of life and flash fictions. I checked my stats, and one of the most popular ones (which surprised me, actually) was The Structure of My Being. https://roughwighting.net/2017/03/10/the-structure-of-my-being/

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Another thoughtful and inspirational post, Andrea. I will certainly reach out and follow someone new from your bushel of likers. 🙂
    I have no single favourite post from the past blogging year, but I would like to answer your question on Creative Achievement. I am most proud of completing and publishing my 2-title Calmer Girls Series, as well as having done quite a bit of work on my next novel. It is a departure for me, as the genre is speculative fiction and set in the future. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I’ve been trying to explain to people why autumn is my favorite season, and struggling with the right words…and you describe it beautifully. With your words, which you have a talent to harvest yourself, and with your photography. Harvest. It was grain harvest (mainly wheat) in my hometown, but a time when the work of the community was finished (at least for a few days!). While I grew up with the wheat fields and horses, it was the sea I dreamed about. “messis ab altis means ‘harvest from the deep’. Emerging from a handful of fishermen’s huts in the 13th century, it went on to harvest not only fish, but coal and salt.” This is a life that intrigued me, and never really thought about a harvest season for fishermen or their villages. Wish you a great autumn ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. This post is just as lovely as all your posts and the place you stay in. I learn a little more on how to write from each of your posts. Thank you for that. Also, thank you for sharing the beauty of your neighborhood with those of us who are starved of nature’s beauty.
    I like how the harvest links to our own harvest and how you’ve shared the joys of harvest with each one of us.
    For me the last equinox was extremely eventful. it was the time I started blogging. I began the blog very unsure if I would be read but the community here has been extremely encouraging so far. Have added the link to a post that is close to my heart:
    https://lifeateacher.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/a-girl-i-knew/

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  35. Andrea, what a great post. A new statue in homage to lost seafarers is heartwarming indeed. I haven’t written many posts for my personal blog this year. My job demands have increased and my fourth novel was released, so all is good–not complaining. In terms of harvest, I’ve had a bountiful year and I’m grateful! Happy Autumn!

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  36. Sorry to be so late, Andrea. (Dratted WordPress stopped emailing me…)
    This is another beautiful, vivid post. Your words add such magic to the scene. “Crawling on every remaining stalk and leaf were caterpillars.” I could hear them munching. 🙂
    The photos are wonderful too. I loved the sunlight glittering the water. Thank you, my friend, for this moment of magic and beauty. Hugs.

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  37. What a lovely way to celebrate the harvest season online. I too have been thinking about the hard work of harvests, in particular how patient one needs to be to eventually (perhaps) see one’s efforts bear fruit. Looking forward to discovering other people’s efforts. As for my proudest post to date, I would say it is re-discovering wonder while managing to experience the solar eclipse this year: http://tinyurl.com/y9pty7nh. Happy Autumn!

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  38. Andrea, I so enjoyed the dedication of this statue to those who come and go on the sea, and the fisherman’s psalm. As well as a recap of some of your memorable photos. What have I harvested? A slow but steady progression forward in healing both body and mind and feeling better. A favorite post – hmmmm, because I do so enjoy writing my blog, a favorite post is hard to pick, but for now, I’d say this one – https://stilladreamer.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/in-the-moment/
    Thanks for the invitation. And I’ll visit one of your visitors. 🙂

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