Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Rural View

I am very, very, very much a city dweller. Don't worry, some of my best friends are country-loving folk. But I love people, bustling around; buildings. When friends and I discuss the places we most want to visit, mine are generally cities - Istanbul, Rio, Buenos Aires, Cracow, St. Petersburg - and theirs are often expanses, landscapes, without people.

Nonetheless, I adore riding trains, particularly the route from London to Sheffield, where I am visiting Dr. TOH's family, because England is so bloody pretty. Not awesome, not spectacular - no giant deserts or mountains or things on an American scale - but spectacularly pretty. It is breathtaking - rolling green hills, with hedgerows and farming equipment scattered around; chocolate box houses, sometimes clustered in small hamlets; horses idling grazing, cows loitering; barges along canals; kestrels hovering overhead. Perhaps because of the milder temperatures here - although it's still ludicrously warm in New York - I think winter is more becoming to the English landscape than that of the northeastern seaboard in the United States. That becomes very brown and scrubby, where here it seems more suitable, somehow, with the smaller, closed skies.

My brother will be heading northward to the north west of Scotland, where he now lives, and I am extremely envious of that journey. The light and the greens and soft greys and blues of Scottish landscape are yet another thing I've not seen enough of, but I have wonderful memories of from the few times I've been to Scotland.

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