Muffled and protected we wait,
our routines changed by a frozen mass that stops us from going,
but opens the door to another view.
It’s midnight and the pub is filled with people dressed as historical figures from the past. Some are clearly in costume while a few are in evening clothes and less easy to identify. Just a few minutes before the BBC radio which is playing in the background announces the beginning of a new year, a group of people I don’t recognize spill into the pub arriving in modern day casual clothing that stands out a bit next to characters such as Robin Hood, Van Gogh, and Amelia Earhart. There’s no time to wonder who they are or to say much more than hello as the voice of the BBC begins to countdown. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Happy New Year!
People are kissing and confetti is flying and there is an excitement that is familiar and reassuring to one so far from home. From the door where I am standing, I can see people all around the pub crossing their arms one over the other as they reach for the hand of the person closest to them. Rocking and swaying, they are suddenly a body of like minded people as they begin to sing a song I recognize, “Auld Lang Syne.”
I sing along for a minute, one arm over the other, but I let go of John’s hand and I lift my camera high trying to capture a moment I am not sure I will be able to recreate later with words. Watching as they sing, I suddenly feel as if I have been transported back in time to 1944, a feeling so strong that even now days later I still can’t quite shake it. I don’t know why it is that date stands out … only that it does. It seemed fitting to color the image to fit the feeling I have when seeing it.
Mister Rogers would be proud of the people in the little village I now call home. We’ve spent the last week fairly well snowed in and the care and concern I’ve witnessed among my neighbors has been lovely to see. I’ve never lived in a place where I knew so many people. In a village of 500, it is easy to learn not only the names of the people who live here, but often a bit of their history as well. Today I want to share a little with you about a few of my neighbors who help make this such a special place to live. If you are unsure as to who I am referring to when I mentioned Mister Rogers earlier, this little video will help explain, but be forewarned it might make you cry.
Fred Rogers always began his children’s program with a special song about being neighbors and I’ve mixed in the lyrics which I’ve highlighted in blue with a few pictures of my neighborhood and neighbors.
It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
This is the way to my neighbor Janey’s house. Yesterday when I couldn’t get to Port Isaac to have my stitches removed from a small procedure done the week before, Janey volunteered to take them out for me. Now a clinical psychologist, she trained as a nurse in her first career and offered to help when she heard me saying that I might have to do it myself.
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
In the three pictures below, you can see Gary and Margaret who own the village pub. Margaret is also the post mistress and while I’ve seen them involved in fundraising for charity events more times than I can remember, they have been such good neighbors during this week of snow that it’s really been something to see. Our village shop which houses the post office among other things became a sort of command central staying open and supplying necessary items to keep the people in our community from doing without. Watching Margaret directing and coordinating the restocking efforts while continuing with her regular responsibilities was impressive. Her husband Gary was able after the first 24 hours to make trips in and out of our village maneuvering through the icy lanes in his 4 wheel drive vehicle picking up supplies for the village shop and giving people rides on some of his trips.
Gary cooking at a fundraiser for cancer research.
Gary behind the bar in the pub.
I had trouble finding a picture of Margaret in my files, but managed to find this one of her in the pub. Margaret is rarely seen behind the bar which explains why it looks as it does. I was shooting on the fly and not very well I’m afraid.
The flowers and cottage above belong to Jeff, a 77 year old man who I kept seeing with Gary when I would happen to run into them at the village shop as they were moving about the village giving some people rides in between their frequent trips to get supplies. I usually bump into Jeff three or four times a week and I was surprised to see that I did not have any pictures of him to post.
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
Len and Mary are the couple you see here with their dog. I caught them just after they had returned our neighbor Betty’s dog after taking it up on the moor for walk for her. Having watched Len and Mary pick up deliveries from the village store all week to take around to some of the older people who could not walk to the shop, I can almost guarantee that what ever is in the bags they’re carrying, it is almost certainly a delivery for someone who can’t manage the snow. All of the good neighbors I mentioned have been tireless during this time making sure everyone who needed something was able to get it. I wanted to acknowledge these folks who did so much for the neighborhood and managed to look as if they were having a good time doing it.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?
I could not let this day pass without acknowledging the significance of today. Every relationship has milestones and today marks one for me and John. Two years ago on January 5, John received an alert that I had no idea I had initiated while viewing his profile on the UK dating website, Guardian Soulmates.
After seeing this picture and reading his profile, I saved him to my favorites and went on with my day. Little did I know that saving his profile would send him an email saying that he had a fan. John responded with a email to me and after I recovered from my surprise, I sent him one back. He responded to mine and ended it with his email address for a more direct contact than through Soulmates and let me know he was interested in continuing to talk. I had not intended on establishing contact with anyone … I was really just looking at profiles as a distraction and out of curiosity. I wrote about this last year here in great detail, but I didn’t say then that after our initial contact on the fifth it took me until the seventh to send him another email.
It took two days of thinking about why I should or shouldn’t be developing something with a man in another country, but ultimately I thought, oh go on … it’s not like you’re going to get married or anything.
John likes to think of the fifth as our anniversary since it was our first meeting … at least through email. If you’ve been reading this blog for very long you’ll know that we have another anniversary coming up next month. I bet most of you won’t need a hint to guess what we’ll be celebrating then.
Morning light across the village green.
The last two days have seen our little village fairly cut off from the rest of the world by all the snow we’ve had over the last few days. All day yesterday and late into today only those with 4 wheel drive could make it in or out. Around 3:00 pm, John was finally able to get through the lanes to the main highway and drive the five miles or so to the closest supermarket. He picked up a few things for a neighbor and let another know we are now well stocked in case things freeze as the weather reports are predicting. He had to leave the car and hike up the hill to the house with the groceries, but he made it home safely just before things began to freeze.
Our village shop was pretty cleaned out today with certain items such as milk being made available first to those with small children and the elderly in our community. Even though I wanted some milk for baking, I liked seeing those who really needed it receive it first. I walked back up our street from the shop with Len and Mary who are friends and neighbors that live on our street. I watched as they knocked on the doors of the homes of several people in their 70s and 80s checking in to be sure they were doing all right.
I managed a good long walk through some of my favorite places around the village and of course snapped a few photographs to share. Much of the UK is experiencing a slow down or in some cases no movement at all. Schools are closed and hospitals are asking that only those in dire need come in and I feel fortunate that I have no where pressing to be over the next few days. Seems like a good time to do a bit of baking … I’m thinking maybe a nice big batch of cinnamon rolls to go with all of the hot chocolate we’ll be drinking over the next few days.
These are photographs from the last two days:
The buttercup field under cover of snow.
This is the old stone bridge we cross to get to the buttercup field.
Me, on the other side of the bridge.
John crossing a farmers field with the entrance to our village in the distance behind him. (see the church tower)
Our village on the hill.
Me making a snow angel.
Not bad for being no angel myself.
Night fall – I stepped out on the patio to snap the sunset just as bunch of sparrows flew over.
I took this photograph at the ice rink at Rockefeller Center in New York so many years ago I can barely remember when. I always go there to watch the skaters when I visit Manhattan and once I even took time to skate myself. While I may not remember what year this was taken, I do remember the man in the center of the photograph. If you look, you can see him with his arms up, extended and open in the type of grand gesture one would usually associate with a competitive ice skater. What you can’t see in this picture is that he appeared to be in his seventies, with slowed movement, and frankly not much more than enough skill to stay on his feet.
While his posture and grand movements initially drew my eye it was the look on his face that made me unable to look away. To say he glowed would barely be adequate to describe the undiluted joy that he seemed to be experiencing. I was captivated in such a way that I have never forgotten the impression he made on me that day. His willingness to be himself with no apparent self-consciousness, moving as if he were completely alone all the while surrounded by an audience of spectators, caused me to make a vow right then. With no one listening but me, I said to myself, ” I want to be like that when I grow old.” Now, years later I think, why wait ?
I’ve been looking at this photo a good bit since scanning the original into my computer a few months ago. For years it had a special place on my refrigerator door, but now here in Cornwall, we have a much smaller refrigerator and it’s covered with cabinetry so there’s no place for it there.
Lately, I found myself wanting to write about my experience at the ice rink that day but I’ve been putting it off waiting for the time to be right. I knew this morning was finally that time when I read Meg Casey’s post for today. If you haven’t been by Meg’s place yet you need to go. She is one off those people who quietly and repeatedly makes a difference. While reading her ” One Word “ post this morning I realized just what I wanted to say about my man above.
With so many of the bloggers I read choosing one word to act as a guide or theme for the year, I thought a great deal about what word I might find useful. I kept being drawn back to this photograph and thinking about it with regard to my word choice. At first I thought perhaps embrace might be a good word for this year, but it felt restrictive somehow…more about holding on to something instead of how I really think this picture makes me feel.
After reading Meg’s post this morning, I came back to ” my skater ” photograph and decided that my word for 2010 would be:
1. to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.
2. to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.
3. to promote, advance, or foster.
My unknown skater has been a silent inspiration to me since the day I took his photograph. His freedom to express himself without fear of ridicule is an example that I find inspiring and with that inspiration comes a measure of courage and spirit, as well the confidence to live boldly and do it now! Plainly put…I am encouraged by his actions.
In 2010, I will be writing from time to time about people like Meg Casey who is encouraging to others just by sharing her own journey. If you have chosen a word for this year, please link in the comment section so others may find it. You never know who may find encouragement in something you say or do. I’d be willing to bet my skater never knew …
Does anyone remember when I wrote about meeting the woman pictured below? It was my last night in Atlanta before flying back the next day to England. Well, if you missed it and would like to know what the Pioneer Woman and I talked about, you can read all about it here.
This post is just a little thank you note to Ree Drummond for sending 2300 of her blogging buddies by yesterday to have a look around Gifts Of The Journey. They were such a quiet crowd that I might not have noticed they were here if I had not seen my sitemeter numbers spiking so quickly. I’ve never had a party where so many folks stopped by and a party is exactly what it felt like here as I watched my numbers rise. This morning was just a memory though with nary a scrap of anything left behind except a nice comment from Rebekah who was at the Atlanta gathering with the other 800 or so of us.
If I had know they were coming, I might have made a batch of Ree’s famous cinnamon rolls for everyone like I did for some of the folks in my village on Christmas Eve or maybe shared stories about how well my her stuffing tasted with our Christmas dinner or I might even have shown pictures of all of the blackberry cobblers I made and gave away to people here who had no idea what a cobbler was. As it was, I felt slightly unprepared and could only shout throughout the day to my husband John saying, ” I’m at 902, 1106, 2001…,” and so on while whispering a little thanks for stopping by as I saw folks departing.
Seriously, thanks to everyone who took the time to visit and I hope you come back again when you can stay a bit longer. Oh, and if you’re looking for some horses and cows like PW has hanging around her place, I’ve got some of those you might like roaming free on the moors and other places around here.
Maybe to you this picture looks like just another woman at a fancy dress/costume party … someone possibly dressed as Amelia Earhart on New Year’s Eve, but I see something different. It’s there in her eyes … joy, relief, and playfulness … the kind of things one might feel when finally arriving at their destination after a long journey.
Too many of us get stuck in the past never letting go of old hurts or regrets. I have long been determined that I would not be a casualty of what I could not change and when I couldn’t find my own way, I had enough sense to ask others for a bit of help and direction. I know I walk a clearer path today because of the guidance and support of two very special women.
I am sure they both know how important the work is that they do, but I want to say thank you again to Nancy and to Wendy for helping this traveler find her way home.
So often I see an internal struggle in the words of the writers whose blogs I read. It is difficult not to want to lend directional support when I see people in crisis. It’s my nature to be a caregiver although I didn’t believe it for many years. I remember exactly, the moment I realized what I had been doing and the impact on my life. It was the beginning, and I do mean the beginning, of real and lasting change for me.
While I earnestly believe as J.R.R.Tolkien said, ” Not all those who wander are lost ” I also understand that it can be a long and lonely road for those who grow weary of constant movement.
If you’re struggling to do it all on your own, I hope this will be the year you find your own “Nancy or Wendy ” to help you on your way back to whatever you call home.