It was hot on Sunday… the kind of day that was almost inevitably going to demand ice-cream at some point. In the meantime, though, there was a pub. In fact, I recall there being several lovely country pubs that required our presence as we drove through the spectacular Derbyshire landscape. One cannot allow one’s co-author to become dehydrated, now, can one? An excellent excuse…. quite apart from the fact that after a morning’s research in the field… and up hills, down dales and over great limestone outcrops, without mentioning the churches… we needed to sit down and collate our ideas.
As there as such beautiful hostelries in that area, it would have seemed almost rude not to avail ourselves of their welcoming presence…. so after a final visit to the little church in Baslow we wandered to a pub with a little walled garden beside the river, where we could watch the water sparkle and the ducks play…..and the random silkies investigating every crumb dropped beneath the tables.
It was glorious weather… that hint of gold in the air that signals the beginning of Autumn, the hum of insects… mainly wasps attracted by the ale, I have to admit…and the sound of the river below. We lingered a while, Baslow is a pretty place, all warm stone and green and the pub garden full of late flowers and rowan in all the colours of flame. England has been incredibly beautiful this year.
Or maybe I have just been more open to the living beauty around me than ever before… It is many years since I have been able to spend this amount of time in the green and glorious places. I feel the reconnection with the life of the land has brought something to life again within me. Like the sleeping princess of the fairy tales, the thorny branches of everyday life have kept me, prisoner, in a grey and colourless normality called necessity… something many of us can relate to. Like the silkies we are almost obliged to keep our feet and our eyes firmly on the ground, bursting into a brief semblance of flight from time to time, only to have gravity pull us back.
Yet life still flows around us like the river, inexorably moving forward whether we choose to stand on the banks and watch, float along its surface or plunge deep within the current, head first, giving ourselves to the waters and trusting that we will be buoyed and carried by its flow towards a destination as yet, perhaps, uncharted. It is an exhilarating ride, full of rapids and still pools, rocks and sparkles… but it fills you with life and lightness.
In the glorious colours and vivid greens, in the deep shadows of this summer, I have seen such beauty. Dark clouds against azure skies, the contrast of dark against bright merely serving to show how necessary both are in the grand scheme of things to be able to appreciate the whole. And somewhere in all that glory is a small spark of life that is part of that whole… that is me… and you… and each of us. And while we may feel as if we are looking out upon a beautiful landscape, in truth we are part of it, as it is part of us. Somehow, when we take the time to really see, something within is awakened to a recognition of belonging in this time, this place, this moment…. then life itself suddenly feels like home.