From across the sea, a land I have never visited beckons to me. Why have I always dreamed of England as if it were a place of myths and enchantment? Perhaps because, to me, it is. The stories of King Arthur that I devoured as a child are rooted there. The windswept moors of the Brontes are there. The manor houses peopled by Jane Austen's unforgettable characters are there. And always, indisputably romanticized in my mind, tiny cottages with lovely gardens are strewn across the countryside, awaiting my arrival for a long, lazy fortnight. Nevermind that no-one does anything by the "fortnight" in my real world. Never mind that I have no imminent plans to travel to Great Britain. A cottage awaits me. Of that I am sure.
Have I been making scones more frequently of late because the Anglo-mood is upon me once again? Or have I induced the interest in All-Things-English by consuming so much tea and so many scones? The latest batch, laced with apples and cinnamon, was consumed just before I piled my bedside table with a few modern novels set in an English cottage. The two I intend to read first are Thornyhold and Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart. These are old favorites of mine, and I am looking forward to visiting old friends as I read them again!
This afternoon, I watched Emma Thompson's movie version of Sense and Sensibility as I did my ironing. I've seen it many times, but still cried my way through a favorite emotional scene. I'll pull out a few more Jane Austen adaptations as the month goes on. I have to admit, February and March are the months I am most ready to head for "anywhere but here." By this time, late in winter, I am ready to fly thousands of miles to find spring. I'm ready pack my bags and leave a note on the counter saying, "Call me when the first flower blooms and I'll come home."
Why do I imagine that in England it is always late spring, or the soft early days of summer, and flowers always blooming? Why do I imagine that rain there does not ruin plans, but rather softens the hard edges of one's life? I know that I have "picked and chosen" the things I love about England and made of them an imaginary place in which I would love to spend idyllic days. Never mind what my intellect tells me. In my heart, I know that tucked inside a cheerful tangle of rosevines beyond a garden wall, a cottage awaits me.
photos by Aisling, 2006 and 2007