On Giving Thanks

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In this season of life, there are so many things to be thankful for. For the wind and the wild, the birds, trees, the rushes by the lake, the stormy sky and the glowing moonrise. For sunshine warming your back, for hot tea and books and folktales and stories of the unknown. For family and friends gathered together, and for breaking bread and quiet nights at the hearth. And mostly for love and kindness and joy.

On Friendship
by Kahlil Gibran

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

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On Recording Sheep and Stratford

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I’ve been falling so far behind with writing posts about our trip that every time I sit down to write more I’m overwhelmed by the backlog! These photos are from our time in the Midlands near Birmingham, where we visited some dear family friends. The Airbnb we stayed in was on a small farm and they had a lovely little flock of sheep. Kevin was playing with his new field recording toy, and so we spent some hilarious time out in the fields trying to get a good recording of the sheep bleating and munching on grass.

While in the Midlands we journeyed to Stratford Upon Avon, which is just as lovely as I imagined. I was slightly trepidatious about going because Stratford is rather touristy, but I found that I forgot about that in about a second. There were huge bevies of swans gliding along the river, swarming near the banks to snag a bite of bread. The water was shining and the swans were so serene and unperturbed by the tourists on the bank. While in Stratford we visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, which was another touristy place that nevertheless felt exciting and special. There were actors who performed scenes from plays out in the garden, kind of like a Shakespearean jukebox. Visitors would request certain scenes or plays and the actors would be ready to oblige. We had a chance to chat with them about performing, and asked them to perform their favorite scenes. We also visited the church in Stratford where Shakespeare is buried, which was also the church Shakespeare attended when he was alive. Kevin and I sat in the pews for a while just soaking in the feeling of being in the church while they set up for a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that evening. I was so glad we had a chance to walk about in the places Shakespeare walked and to spend time in such a beautiful place.

The last pictures in this post are from Hanbury Church, which was Kevin’s favorite place we visited in the Midlands. The church was closed for the day, so we sadly weren’t able to go inside, but it was breathtaking to stand up on the hilltop and look out over the countryside. In the distance someone was burning brush and we could see the smoke curling upwards from miles away. Kevin and I wondered what it would have been like to live in England four hundred or five hundred years ago when the view from that hill would have looked much the same, if not a bit less developed. The clouds that day were soaring overhead and the churchyard was filled with gently swaying daisies. I loved every minute we spent there.

I’ll try to post a bit sooner with the last portion of England pictures! I’m absolutely dying to get up my Lammas post, so I’ll try for some prompt writing this time. Sending daisies and late summer harvest wishes to all.

On Travels And Organization

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I drove over to my favorite Harrison’s Yellow rose the day we left, and took a few petals in a little silk pouch on our trip to remind me of home.

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Canterbury Cathedral

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My mom standing by the loo in the “most haunted building in Canterbury.” We loved how short the doorways were.

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I’ve been trying to figure out a way to condense my recent trip to Europe and the U.K. into something vaguely resembling coherent blog posts. It’s difficult to figure out how to pare down an experience into something small and readable, so of course I’ve been avoiding working on it in hopes of a bolt of organizational inspiration! I’ve decided to break it up into smaller more chronological posts just for ease and so nothing is too overwhelming. Hopefully this way it will be easy to read and won’t be too arduous.

The first leg of our trip Kevin and I traveled to Alkmaar / Bergen in The Netherlands for my friend Cassidy’s wedding. We stayed in Bergen, and enjoyed several days seeing old friends and attending the wedding ceremony. It was so lovely to be there to see my friend get married! After the wedding we met up with my friend Chloe in Amsterdam, and enjoyed a day wandering around the city, sipping mint tea, “ooh-ing” and “ah-ing” at the old houses, and sampling cheese. There was something so comfortable about the city, and both Kevin and I were completely enamored. We can’t wait to go back, and are hoping to visit the Anne Frank museum on our next trip.

From Amsterdam, we spent several days in London, which was an absolute whirlwind! We ate Indian food, visited the Museum of Portable Sound, wandered around Bloomsbury, got lost in the London Review Bookshop (there were many temptations), saw some bizarre installations at the Tate Modern, and took a day trip to Canterbury Cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful, yet was filled with the eerie reminder of Thomas Becket’s murder in 1170. The murder spot is marked with a slightly macabre cross made of swords, meant to represent the swords of the knights who slew Thomas. There was also a singular candle left burning at the place where Thomas’s alter used to stand before it was destroyed in the reformation. I was so glad to finally visit Canterbury, especially since I loved reading the Canterbury Tales in college. It was so fun to reach the site of Chaucer’s fictional pilgrimage (even if the pilgrims in the tales never made it themselves!)

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of our whole trip was seeing a production of “As You Like It” at the Globe in London. I had been to a play at the Globe when I was studying abroad, and it was just as magical this time. We saw a matinee, so the stage was lit with natural light, and the actors performed without amplification, so it’s just as it would have been in Shakespeare’s time. Highlights include: actors dressed as sheep, false identities, amazing costumes, lots of singing, and a group dance at the end. It was a fantastic show, and we all left with huge smiles on our faces – and an ice cream cone for me! I wish I could snap my fingers and be there again.

The last pictures in this post are from the village of Stowe-on-the-Wold, home to St. Edwards Church, which we visited on our way from London up to the Midlands. Supposedly, the door flanked with yew trees inspired J.R.R. Tolkein in his description of the Doors of Durin. The church was cool and quiet, and we wandered around the churchyard, admiring the daisies that were growing among the graves. It was a helpful moment to slow down after all the activity at the beginning of our trip, and I was so glad we had a chance to visit this lovely place.

There are so many more things I have to share from this trip, and so many ideas and thoughts I’ve had about travel and folklore and writing all wrapped up together. I’m trying to catch up a bit since we have holidays looming on the horizon (Lammas is only a couple weeks away!) I hope you’re all enjoying these long, sunny days, and are finding ways to stay cool.

Sending summer cherries and sunshine!