May 3rd, 2013…
Today was a gentle one. We talked most of the morning, of people and places, histories and dreams. We talked as if we have known each other for a lifetime, though our actual meeting was just a few short years ago. We talked, having failed singularly to get dressed, as if we were used to seeing each other with unbrushed hair and in our nightclothes…yet we have spent so little physical time together, given the miles that separate us. We talked as if we were used to hearing each other’s voices instead of simply sharing laughter and our deepest thoughts on a screen.
We talked in spite of the sempiternal tennis ball thrust soggily upon us. Some friendships are like that. They hold a beauty that defies both time and distance and go straight to the soul.
So it was mid-afternoon by the time, duly groomed, we left my son’s house and headed towards the ancient beech woods of Ashridge in search of a late lunch and bluebells. We went the pretty way, through narrow lanes bordered in the varied greens of springtime, with wood anemones and honesty, celandines and dandelions bordering the road and blossom weighs the branches of the trees in delicate arches above.
We paused for a while in the lovely little village of Aldbury at the foot of Tom’s Hill. Parking next to the village pond with the old stocks still in place, watching the play of sunlight warm the centuries old brick of the houses, we walked to the 13th century parish church of St John the Baptist.
The light through the stained glass was incredibly beautiful. The church has a very lived-in feel to it, as ancient and modern art nestle comfortably together in a continuity of both community and communion. In a side chapel lies the Verney tomb where the Knight’s feet lie upon a wild man carved in stone.
Lunch was late, as were the bluebells.. another few days and it will be a sea of blue fragrance, but today there were only emerald leaves. But that was fine…the young beech leaves were beautiful.
The sun was glorious as we headed out towards Ivinghoe Beacon, our journey somewhat impeded by a heard of furry bovines who seemed to take little notice of either car or human. Not so the deer, a whole herd within feet of the car, who stayed for a moment before disappearing almost magically into the trees.
We finished with a visit to a tiny church at Little Gaddesden, St Peter and St Paul, with a fabulously painted interior, before driving back via the imposing façade of Ashridge House.
A leisurely dinner completed the day and bed calls as we have an early start tomorrow, heading south for lunch with people I am very much looking forward to meeting. We saw many beautiful things today, and yet, of all of them it was the green of spring that lifted the heart.