Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Learning from Lark Rise

There is a scene in the final episode of Lark Rise to Candleford when Queenie is looking out upon the horizon and sees, not her beloved Lark Rise as she knows it... but smoke stacks and factories covering the land.  She understands that she has been shown what is coming in the not too distant future.  She knows there is no stopping it.

I thought of the Lark Rise series this past week and the nonfiction books upon which it was based.  For there came a knock at our front door one day and my husband walked out to talk to the visitor.  (We must do so with a house cat who thinks it would be lovely to escape to the forest.)  He came back inside after about five minutes and said I should talk to our neighbor, for he didn't have the answer she needed.

As it turned out, the woman lived on the road that leads to the Bypass and was looking for the owners of a cat which was allowed to run free and causing problems in her yard.  Thankfully, I could assure her our very petite cat not only stayed inside but would run from any threat to her furry person. There were also no kitties by that description who made their way through my backyard recently.

Somehow, the conversation drifted from cats to the land around us.  She had returned permanently to the area about the same time we came back.  We talked about the changes and how each would visit "back home" and not recognize the place.  Where there were fields and family farms, now there were subdivisions and traffic.

She grew up in the house where she now lives so she knew the history of the area. At one time this was a very small town, no bigger than Lark Rise.  Just down the road, where a new house sits, there once was a blacksmith shop for the town. For even in a very small place, one needed a blacksmith when horses were the main form of transportation. Not all that long ago, really.

I lived my early childhood years in such a very small rural "town" that consisted of some houses and a grain elevator where the train would stop to pick up train cars filled with corn on its' way to the City.  The last time I drove through the area, it was still mainly a grain elevator and a few houses.  Although the old farm we lived in was no longer there. However, unlike the neighborhood where I currently live, it still retains its' name and a minuscule place on the map. 

It makes me wonder how a place existed and then it didn't. How a town on a map can just disappear? Although... maybe I do understand.  For my front porch guest also found out, quite by accident, that in the area's 10-20 Plan (of which I had no idea it existed), our land is scheduled to become part of a new highway. Someday.  Most likely after I'm gone but within the reach of her lifetime.

Like Queenie, I can see what is coming.  Not from some sort of supernatural vision but from the front pages of our newspaper.  It is all about progress and transportation and getting people from one place to another as fast as possible.  But what about the farms and the forests and the wetlands where the sandhill cranes stop on their migration?  Already I miss the Canadian geese flying over as they migrate.  One hardly hears them these past few years and at one time they were the sounds of Autumn.

I wonder if we are a people on the verge of a national nervous breakdown because we have lost our connection to the way God intended us to live?  In our rush to the large cities... and in trying to become one... we no longer hear the echoes of Eden. 

I know we live in a most fallen of worlds.  I am aware of the imperfections of life.  For also on this land, before the tiny town existed, this was the home of a great Native American nation.  I also grew up playing on the very ground where great battles took place.  One of the "Trail of Tears" goes through this land.  We have been far from Eden for millenia. 

But is it truly progress to live in our cars and spend our days looking at a screen?  Are we moving so fast as a society that our soul can no longer keep up with the speed of life?  I don't think it can be stopped for what we are seeing is a symptom rather than the cause.  But I can slow down my life and make choices to step back... a little here and a little there.

I slow down when I sip that first cup of coffee in the morning.  I slow down when I chop vegetables and make soup from scratch instead of opening a can.  I slow down when I must wash dishes by hand so I enjoy the aroma as Mrs. Meyer's Peony scent fills the sink as the hot water hits the soap.  I slow down when I polish the thrift store silver service or rub lemon oil into the antique furniture.

I slow down when I plant a flower or herbs on the deck. I slow down when I choose to read a book instead of turning on the television.  I slow down when I sweep the kitchen floor.  I slow down when I open the window to the Study and actually listen to the birdsong coming through from the forest.  How long has it been since you have enjoyed a free concert?

There will be no perfect days or perfect place until this world has been restored.  However, we can accept what is good and hold it to us each day.  Not longing for the good old days but instead grasping to us what is precious about today.  Taking the time to really slow down and notice our journey on earth.  This is not a dress rehearsal.  This is life.


Vee said...

This is life on this earth...

It is interesting to read about the changes in your area and the projected changes...Hmmm...that might be cause for fretting if one was inclined to fret, which I know you are not.

My community is actually in a substantial decline. We used to have factories in this town...a shoe factory, a paper mill, a gun factory. We had several groceries, two hotels, two train stations, a movie theater, two dress stores, a shoe store, two hardware stores, five banks, all gone now. It will be some time before it is ever, if ever, built back up to that level. (No one who is intelligent wants to put in a Maine winter.)

Hope that the lady finds the culprit kitty's owners.

lynneinMN said...

a good reminder. so desperately needed today! we are getting ready to move 150 miles away from my hometown of 49 years, and i'm so busy packing, purging, and being "manic" about the move, that I've forgotten how to just sit for 5 minutes and 'listen'. I shall do that hence forth. not only listen to the sweet birds arriving this spring, but also for that small voice that wants so desperately to be heard. Thank you for the reminder! LynneinMN (soon to be, LynneinWI!)

Unknown said...

This is such a good reminder..
Thank you

hopeinbrazil said...

Thank you for another wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Being in this latter stage of life has some rewards, doesn't it? We are still super busy, but we do find time now together, to enjoy some simpler things in life!! Truly grateful for that!!
Elizabeth in WA

Judy said...

Oh how I love Queenie and the Lark Rise community.

We have so much to learn from them about healthy rhythms for life and the importance of community. It is her stillness that she gains insight about what is to come, and it is in the same kind of quiet that we hear the voice of God, and make time for those He has put in our lives.

Thanks for this Afternoon Tea reflection.

Joy said...

You have hit the nail on the head. You have expressed what my heart feels and my mind tells me, but I never thought to put it in words. I just returned from a 700 mile trip and I only had the car radio on for about 10 minutes. I prefer to look at the scenery (and there were beautifully kept farms and open rolling fields with grazing cows) and perhaps catch some bird song from my window rolled down a couple of inches rather than have the windows up and move along in my contained 'box'. I like to open the windows of my home in the morning and hear birdsong, and I abhor the noise and frenzied pace of TV in the evening--especially right before I go to bed! We are losing so many things such as open space and tranquility--I for one, will continue to soak up as much as I can as I see nature and quiet as so very needed for our well-being. Thank you for what you wrote.