If you could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I have always wanted to live in a small hamlet in rural England. Somewhere with one of those insanely delicious British names like Biggleswade, or Grange-over-Sands or Newbiggen-by-the-Sea, or perhaps Royal Wootten Bassett. I’d live in a small village with quaint cottages separated by hedgerows. The cottage is a bit drafty in the winter, so the family and I must huddle around the Aga, an old relic that is the pride of the household. In the summer, the scent of herbs in the backyard garden adds a fragrance to the air coming in through the open window. In the front yard a riot of summer blossoms spill over the fence and out of the window boxes with careless abandon.
Every morning I walk to the village center, greeting neighbors as I pass by. I carry a basket as it is market day and the local farmers have set up shop in the village square. I stop by the chemist for a few items and spend a good while selecting an ancient tome from the village library. This is the highlight of my week. I find a nice spot on the green and munch on some berries as I read my book.
We have tea every day with biscuits, not cookies, and often hike miles with the dogs running free. We hike over hillocks and along the rocky shore, occasionally passing ancient stone markers as weathered as time itself in this island of ancient kings and fairy lore.
I don’t know if there are still villages of this sort in England. I suspect there probably are. And the people living in them probably can’t wait to move on to the big cities, such is how it usually works out. But I have my fantasy and my favorite novel of all things British, Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher (sorry Willy. I did buy a book of your sonnets at a bookseller while in London), which I read when I want to visit the friends I made when I first “visited” Dibton -in-Hampshire.
After visiting England this summer, I am even more enchanted with the land and its people. The richness of their heritage, their ascorbic wit and humorous take on just about everything is a delight. We had a gentleman pick us up at our hotel to take us to the bus station and his comments as we drove through London had us in hysterics. Now I know where the Monty Python Troupe found its inspiration. British humor is as much a part of the people as is the land itself. I believe it is in the very air they breathe.
Or maybe it’s in the tea!
a new neighborhood
houses with stone and brick accents
the builders had aspirations, I think
to make it seem like an English village
there’s a little village green
across from my house
I can see the gazebo from my window
we actually gather there, once or twice a year
there is a winding path which leads
to the picturesque stone bridge itself
a pond which caters to Canada geese
and within walking distance
of our own little “Stonebridge Village”
grocery, hair salon, doc-in-a-box, yogurt shop
gas station and aren’t we lucky
our own Dunkin Donuts
although I’ve been to England
we were mostly just in London
and I imagine something
quite different in a village over there
pretty cottages, moss covered roofs
yards full of herbs and flowers and hedgerows
lining the pathways, people on bicycles
waving to neighbors, rather than
running them down with their cars
the grocer knows I like pears
the doctor was there at my birth
the book lady knows I like poetry
and the chemist greets me by name
oh, and fairy lights are strung all year long
not just at Christmas
what about my village would an English lady envy?
Probably the Dunkin Donuts