I never dreamed a month could pass so quickly.
The very fleetness, of course, as I have had occasion to learn over and over again, is the levy time imposes on our happiest hours. There’s always a stern little claw-like hand grasping for a toll at the passage to fairyland, and we pay it with alacrity, straining for a glimpse at the enchantments that lay beyond, assuring ourselves that the price really isn’t all that steep, and that the rate of exchange is doubtless more in our favor than the last time we traded in such currency.
But no matter how the individual days of our sojourn may seem to stretch forth into eternity itself, no matter how many timeless moments they may contain that suspend us between this world and the next, they are still bounded by the laws of the world in which we live. One of which is the disagreeable fact that a month of holiday is simply going to fly in contrast with a month of trouble or worry or over-commitment or grief. I’ve known both sides of the coin, and can see the value in both—but that doesn’t make it the least bit easier to leave England behind.
It only gets harder.
I’ve been home now as long as I was gone. September is a lovely dream which I’m still waking up from most mornings and which occasional dips into my journal and wistful perusals of my husband’s wonderful photographs have often to substantiate in the stern light of day. Was the water really that blue in Cornwall? Could you really feel the wild restlessness of Devon’s stormy past up there on the moors and down in the perpetual twilight of the wooded combes? Is Oxford as golden as I remember it? And were the Cotswolds really that glad to see me again—as happy as I was to see them?
The Roseland, Cornwall, near Towan Beach
But the words I scribbled down in such joyful haste and the images that Philip preserved back me up. They testify that it was more beautiful than I could dare to let myself remember; that though I often despaired at my inability to do it justice and capped my pen with a sigh, that though Philip often turned his camera off and laid it aside just to sit and stare with me in silence, that it’s all there and that it’s real. Even the little Devon violet I pressed and glued into my journal has a voice, and the translucent red and green seaweed I lifted from a rock pool on Towan Beach and dried on stiff paper. The snail shells and pebbles on my kitchen windowsill and the tiny collection of Caribbean shells and sea glass we gathered near Woolacombe (and which I wet down to show my mother what the entire beach looked like)—these all remind me, with trustworthy persistence, that the verities they represent actually exist.
The Parterre, Lanhydrock, Cornwall
My very soul has been steeped with the intoxicating freshness of English air. I’m haunted by the songs of robins in the hedgerows and the wild, eerie shrieks of pheasants in the darkening woods and by the music of the sea coming in an open window at night. My imagination has been quickened by crumbling ruins and seaside castles and walled gardens and ancestral estates.
Exmoor, North Devon
And I am more in love with England than ever…
The Gribben Head, Cornwall