So here I am, back in the North ! 🙂 I haven’t written anything in English for a while, except a little song (to which I haven’t found the tune), but feel it is the language for this lighthearted blogpost.
I love the North of England. Its landscape of hills and moors is beauty and light, no matter what ignorant people say. Northern light, yes, and therefore whiter, thinner, sharper, dearer. Nothing to do with that irresistible Mediterranean wave which either knocks you down straight or doesn’t even bother to do so as it just goes through you, body and soul, leaving you on a shore beyond the known world, somewhere between life and afterlife. Up here, it pierces between two clouds (or armies of them), accurate and determined as the tip of a pencil, redraws everything around you, awakens your mind, sharpens your sense of being in a precise place, at a precise time, in charge of a precise task. Light of a chilly texture, carrying memories of long winters and pale everlasting summers, in tune with the people’s temperament – those I have met often seemed to be trying, by working long and hard, to resist an acquaintance with despair or an urge to fight.
When I was teaching in Kent, I met too many 18 year old boys who had never been anywhere North of Oxfordshire and imagined Birmingham as the gate of Hell. I found that shocking and either hilarious or sad.
My in-laws’ house, like all the houses in the neighbourhood, has very large windows, trying to catch that light. Inside, the walls are white. On beautiful days, it is a bit like sailing in a cloud. On rainy days (and boy can it rain in Lancashire !), it feels like being in a boat struggling through a storm – therefore, a sense of adventure (at least for people who are only passing by, like me, knowing they will soon retreat to some Southern shelter).
The highlight is the garden. Beau-papa tends to the plants and Belle-maman feeds and counts birds, hedgehogs, butterflies. Here I have met my dreamed England of the RHS and the RSPB (Royal Horticultural Society, Royal Society for Protection of Birds). I used to love stones, cities, marble-made memories, mineral landscapes. England opened my eyes and senses to the living world, and changed my life.
Here are some of the garden residents. Hope you enjoy them.