Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dot + Will Had It Right

A little over a year ago, a group of college students found themselves huddled against a chilly spring rain in the Lake District of England. We kept pulling our rain jackets closer and our hats lower as if that would help against the sporadic breath of the wind and the wet. My Georgia blood was accustomed to the constant southern sunshine not this pseudo-spring. In the states, spring arrived (at least in our part) with a definite burst of warmth and color--with only occasional snaps of cold as winter died off. Not so in England apparently-- here the wildflowers and bumblebees had arrived, but winter was reluctant to release its hold. So huddled and shivering we remained in the spot that poet William Wordsworth called the loveliest that man hath ever found.

The streets of Grasmere run close between the buildings. Looking up, you would see clusters of chimney pots and spouts, sidled up snug to each other like a whole bunch of nosy neighbors peering down at you. The stone houses bear thick coats of ivy that have been crawling and growing on the bricks, undisturbed, for hundreds of years. The tiny white cottage on the right is no exception. Relatively plain, its white walls are overtaken with ivy and all manner of creeping vine, some white tiny yellow pom-poms for blooms. A humble yet warm visage. It has the look of a place well-loved.

Although possessing two stories, the building is rather squat, the ceiling  somewhat oppressive with its low, soot-darkened beams. Even at five foot one, I kept instinctively ducking my head. But the outside..the outside opened to a private world of quiet and green. William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy's garden.

At first, the cloud and drizzle obscured the beauty of the growing things there, rendering the twisting stone path and the wild thatches of greenery into a drooping, dripping landscape. But then, the clouds parted and the thing happened that so often happens in spring in England--the sun burst out for a few blessed moments. The rain sputtered to a stop, and the land revealed its hidden colors. Yellow, pink, and white flowers brightened everything around us, throwing their color back into the sky. In the distance, above the cottage rooftop, sunspots on the rolling hills of the Lake District revealed the tender greens of new grass and the faintest lavender of the bluebells.

 This was our welcome to the Wordsworth's home.

Here now, in our Maryland home, cloud-cover and the unforgiving dampness of winter has become a new constant. Admittedly, Georgia can have some yucky winters--usually involving plenty of ice cover and sludge. Lately, though, it does seem like Maryland's version of January has come out to play. Just note the current 15 degree weather...and the sun doesn't do much to raise that number during the afternoons. These past few days of lonely cold, looking out over Maryland's bleak hills, brought back memories of England, the rain, and that sequestered garden. It was a little pocket of beauty that survived the chill, and it took only a few seconds of light to reveal its breathtaking radiance.

And I think that may be one of the chief lessons I learned on that college trip, a lesson that has just now--over a year later--revealed itself: to live for and enjoy those little moments of light and color. They will make a world of difference in driving away bleakness and always reveal some hidden  little beauty--like a yellow flower growing in the crevice of a cottage wall--that will remain even when the clouds roll back in.

image sources: my own. 

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