Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Thoughts of Abroad, From Home

 

Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England – now!!

Perhaps it’s the fact that I can’t go to England at the moment, that makes me want to, almost more than anything. At the same time as the fact that I can’t go out and watch a movie by myself (something I do, at most, maybe two or three times a year) has suddenly become one of my greatest yearnings, even though I can’t think of one I really want to see. What is it about the human condition that makes us so extremely contrary, I wonder. “That which we are, we are,” as another Victorian poet observed. Sometimes, for the sake of my own peace of mind, I wish I weren’t, at least quite so much.

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge –
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
– Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!–Robert Browning, “Home Thoughts From Abroad”)

There’s something so very beautiful (and, yes, chilly, damp and even foggy!) about an English Spring. I think Browning has it exactly right: The beauty of it, as with God, is in the details–the tiny flowers, the sweet songs of the little birds, the budding leaves, the clover, the dewdrops, all ringing through the changes of the seasons. The “gaudy melon-flowers” and the often overwhelming heat and colors and scents and sights and sounds of the warmer climes notwithstanding (Browning spent years of his life in Italy), most of the men and women of the British Empire (and what’s left of it), never really get over their longing for the gentle countryside Aprils of their childhood–I know that was true of my own mother and father, and it’s still true for me.

Yet, unless we want to drive ourselves to distraction, we must learn to “bloom where we’re planted.” And right now, I find myself planted firmly at home, a place I also love, in a situation that I can’t fix or change. So I’m doing what I can to bloom here, quite contentedly and successfully. Walking, knitting, writing, cooking, chatting, watching, and gardening. Hoping that all those I love stay well and safe. Praying that’s the case for them and everyone else, and for the swift, and not too-terribly-damaging end of this dreadful ordeal. (Note well that “cleaning house” doesn’t loom large on my list. I especially like that meme that was circulating a week or so ago–“I’ve always believed I didn’t clean my house because I didn’t have the time. Lately, I’ve found out that’s not the reason.”)

Yet, even while my feet are planted firmly on the ground here, and as I’m busy doing other things, sometimes I just let my mind wish, and long, and wander. “Lonely as a cloud” you might say. Until “my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with the daffodils.”

I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with that. After all, I’m only human.

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay well.

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  1. MarciN Member

    Home is a wonderful place to be. Much better than a plane, a bus, a hospital, a hotel, a cruise ship. My own comfy bed, a soft pillow, a warm blanket, and an open window so I can hear the birds start their symphony at four o’clock sharp in the morning every day in the white hydrangea tree outside the window. :-) 

     

    • #1
    • April 6, 2020, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. EODmom Coolidge

    Spring in England yes, but oh I can still smell the smell of musty leaves walking across St. James Park end of day in November. Maybe my favorite time of year in London. And the lights. I do understand the power of yearning. I listened to the Queen’s speech twice as posted at @jamesgawron and I Vow to Thee again as well. I prayed for the resilience of your fellows to carry them and to strengthen them against the resurgence of the EU. As for me, I’m headed to the nursery to get some forsythia to plant. It’s to be in the 50’s here this week and I’m digging. No cleaning house either….

    • #2
    • April 6, 2020, at 7:27 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. MarciN Member

    The most expensive hotels I have ever stayed in try to make their hotels as homelike as possible in their services and furnishings. It has always made me laugh at how much we spend to stay in a place where we are as comfortable as we are at home. :-)

    • #3
    • April 6, 2020, at 7:40 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  4. Kay of MT Member

    What a wonderful wake up call, as it immediately brought back memories of a beloved 6 or 7th grade English teacher who taught us that poem and had us learn to recite it. I have never forgotten. Thank you so much for this.

    • #4
    • April 6, 2020, at 8:17 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    She: What is it about the human condition that makes us so extremely contrary, I wonder.

    Me too…

    • #5
    • April 6, 2020, at 8:58 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    What a wonderful wake up call, as it immediately brought back memories of a beloved 6 or 7th grade English teacher who taught us that poem and had us learn to recite it. I have never forgotten. Thank you so much for this.

    I love comments like this. Thank you!

    • #6
    • April 6, 2020, at 9:25 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The most expensive hotels I have ever stayed in try to make their hotels as homelike as possible in their services and furnishings. It has always made me laugh at how much we spend to stay in a place where we are as comfortable as we are at home. :-)

    So true. And funny.

    • #7
    • April 6, 2020, at 11:26 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Here’s one for you. High Street, Lavenham, Suffolk. A Medieval wool town. Visited with my class in 1991.

    • #8
    • April 6, 2020, at 4:23 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. Vectorman Thatcher

    Join other Ricochet members by submitting a Quote of the Day post, the easiest way to start a fun conversation. There are many open days on the April Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #9
    • April 6, 2020, at 4:46 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Here’s one for you. High Street, Lavenham, Suffolk. A Medieval wool town. Visited with my class in 1991.

    Oh, lovely. I’ve not been there. Thanks. (Why are they all driving on the wrong side of the road though?) LOL.

    • #10
    • April 6, 2020, at 5:31 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    One more. Gardens at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk.

    • #11
    • April 6, 2020, at 7:30 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. Al French of Damascus Moderator

    She: And right now, I find myself planted firmly at home, a place I also love, in a situation that I can’t fix or change. So I’m doing what I can to bloom here, quite contentedly and successfully. Walking, knitting, writing, cooking, chatting, watching, and gardening. Hoping that all those I love stay well and safe.

    Bless you, She.

    • #12
    • April 6, 2020, at 8:51 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. James Lileks Contributor

    My friend in Suffolk sent a video of her husband giving us all some cheer – he’s been under the weather, not COVID, so his usual voice isn’t with him, but this made me smile, a lot. And I told her the lawn’s so green! Those tulips from the garden! Ah, yes, to be in England.

    • #13
    • April 6, 2020, at 8:51 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge

    She, we saw our first swallow earlier this morning. According to my mother who watches their movement every year, one comes alone to scout around, then the rest follow about a week later. It’s amazing to think how far they’ve travelled to build in the same places every year. 

    • #14
    • April 7, 2020, at 3:33 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. Vectorman Thatcher

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    And I told her the lawn’s so green! Those tulips from the garden! Ah, yes, to be in England.

    Here in Northern Indiana, we’re green and have those flowers (daffodils) in our yard. But yes, England is a nice country outside of London and other big cities.

    • #15
    • April 7, 2020, at 4:15 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Lois Lane Coolidge

    I like spring in England, but my absolute favorite time there is September/early October before the darkness descends, and Bonfire night makes fireworks necessary to make one forget that winter is coming. 

    While I am happy to be in the country of my birth, I still miss the West Country where we lived for a while and wandered across countless green fields dotted with sheep and flowers….

    Nice post.

    • #16
    • April 7, 2020, at 5:11 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    My friend in Suffolk sent a video of her husband giving us all some cheer – he’s been under the weather, not COVID, so his usual voice isn’t with him, but this made me smile, a lot. And I told her the lawn’s so green! Those tulips from the garden! Ah, yes, to be in England.

    That’s just charming! Thank you.

    • #17
    • April 7, 2020, at 5:24 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    For anyone interested, here are links to both the posts I wrote (over at Rushbabe49.com), on the three weeks I spent at the University of Cambridge at a UCLA summer course. It turned out that that summer was the last one they ran that course, so I was lucky to get in under the wire. I took a class in Medieval English Society, taught by a young professor from Gonville and Caius College. For that course, I wrote and presented a paper on Medieval music (when discussing paper topics, the prof told me that he knew nothing about medieval music, so “you may teach me something”).

    https://rushbabe49.com/2015/11/18/photo-essay-university-of-cambridge-summer-1991/

     

    https://rushbabe49.com/2015/08/15/medieval-music-long-form-writing/

     

     

    • #18
    • April 7, 2020, at 10:32 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Tree Rat Member

    She: never really get over their longing for the gentle countryside Aprils of their childhood

    I grew up in Northern Indiana, on a farm; my wife is from Brooklyn, NY. We were looking at a house in Minnesota surrounded by cornfields. My comment to the owner, “To my wife, this is the middle of nowhere, to me, it’s home.”

    Nostalgia rules.

    • #19
    • April 7, 2020, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. The Reticulator Member

    Tree Rat (View Comment):

    She: never really get over their longing for the gentle countryside Aprils of their childhood

    I grew up in Northern Indiana, on a farm; my wife is from Brooklyn, NY. We were looking at a house in Minnesota surrounded by cornfields. My comment to the owner, “To my wife, this is the middle of nowhere, to me, it’s home.”

    Nostalgia rules.

    Northern Indiana has a denser network of roads fit for bicycling (except, perhaps, as you get close to Chicago). Minnesota has wider roads. Whether I could look at a photo of a cornfield and tell you whether it’s in Minnesota or Indiana, I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only person who would find it to be an interesting challenge.

    • #20
    • April 7, 2020, at 1:32 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Tree Rat Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tree Rat (View Comment):

    She: never really get over their longing for the gentle countryside Aprils of their childhood

    I grew up in Northern Indiana, on a farm; my wife is from Brooklyn, NY. We were looking at a house in Minnesota surrounded by cornfields. My comment to the owner, “To my wife, this is the middle of nowhere, to me, it’s home.”

    Nostalgia rules.

    Northern Indiana has a denser network of roads fit for bicycling (except, perhaps, as you get close to Chicago). Minnesota has wider roads. Whether I could look at a photo of a cornfield and tell you whether it’s in Minnesota or Indiana, I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only person who would find it to be an interesting challenge.

    South of St Paul, near Northfield perhaps, the country roads and fields were much like LaPorte County, IN used to be. (Which is also how Tippecanoe County and environs used to be.) Getting away from SP may be similar to getting away from Chicago. 

    • #21
    • April 7, 2020, at 2:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. The Reticulator Member

    Tree Rat (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tree Rat (View Comment):

    She: never really get over their longing for the gentle countryside Aprils of their childhood

    I grew up in Northern Indiana, on a farm; my wife is from Brooklyn, NY. We were looking at a house in Minnesota surrounded by cornfields. My comment to the owner, “To my wife, this is the middle of nowhere, to me, it’s home.”

    Nostalgia rules.

    Northern Indiana has a denser network of roads fit for bicycling (except, perhaps, as you get close to Chicago). Minnesota has wider roads. Whether I could look at a photo of a cornfield and tell you whether it’s in Minnesota or Indiana, I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only person who would find it to be an interesting challenge.

    South of St Paul, near Northfield perhaps, the country roads and fields were much like LaPorte County, IN used to be. (Which is also how Tippecanoe County and environs used to be.) Getting away from SP may be similar to getting away from Chicago.

    Are you from LaPorte County? I find that a good place for riding, but the roads to the west of Door Village have gotten a lot busier than they were 20+ years ago when I first started riding there. It’s long been hard to find decent routes west of Valparaiso. Better to go south to the Kankakee River before turning west. I’d still like to find some alternatives that wouldn’t require such a detour to the south, but haven’t come up with anything yet that I would care for. 

    I haven’t done any riding right around Northfield MN, but I have done a couple of rides through other parts of Rice County. 

    I think it was ten years ago that I last did any riding in Tippecanoe County. We used to go there often, and I’ve been itching to get back. 

    • #22
    • April 7, 2020, at 3:16 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Tree Rat Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tree Rat (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tree Rat (View Comment):

    She: never really get over their longing for the gentle countryside Aprils of their childhood

    I grew up in Northern Indiana, on a farm; my wife is from Brooklyn, NY. We were looking at a house in Minnesota surrounded by cornfields. My comment to the owner, “To my wife, this is the middle of nowhere, to me, it’s home.”

    Nostalgia rules.

    Northern Indiana has a denser network of roads fit for bicycling (except, perhaps, as you get close to Chicago). Minnesota has wider roads. Whether I could look at a photo of a cornfield and tell you whether it’s in Minnesota or Indiana, I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only person who would find it to be an interesting challenge.

    South of St Paul, near Northfield perhaps, the country roads and fields were much like LaPorte County, IN used to be. (Which is also how Tippecanoe County and environs used to be.) Getting away from SP may be similar to getting away from Chicago.

    Are you from LaPorte County? I find that a good place for riding, but the roads to the west of Door Village have gotten a lot busier than they were 20+ years ago when I first started riding there. It’s long been hard to find decent routes west of Valparaiso. Better to go south to the Kankakee River before turning west. I’d still like to find some alternatives that wouldn’t require such a detour to the south, but haven’t come up with anything yet that I would care for.

    I haven’t done any riding right around Northfield MN, but I have done a couple of rides through other parts of Rice County.

    I think it was ten years ago that I last did any riding in Tippecanoe County. We used to go there often, and I’ve been itching to get back.

    Our farm was near Stillwell (or Salem Heights, if you were really familiar with the area, which hardly anyone would be), south and a bit east of the county seat. The area has built up some over the decades. My siblings and I stopped to look at the old farmhouse a couple of years ago. It still stands, but has been completely redone inside. The current owner let us look inside — a big improvement, really. I used to ride the county roads south of us, as long as I didn’t go past US4, there was no real traffic back then. But that was then, of course.

    • #23
    • April 7, 2020, at 4:09 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. The Reticulator Member

    Tree Rat (View Comment):
    Our farm was near Stillwell (or Salem Heights, if you were really familiar with the area, which hardly anyone would be), south and a bit east of the county seat. The area has built up some over the decades. My siblings and I stopped to look at the old farmhouse a couple of years ago. It still stands, but has been completely redone inside. The current owner let us look inside — a big improvement, really. I used to ride the county roads south of us, as long as I didn’t go past US4, there was no real traffic back then. But that was then, of course.

    I’ve not been on that stretch of road. Usually I’m following the old Chicago Road/Sauk Trail from Niles to Door Village to Westville, with various alternatives for going through or around LaPorte. But I’ve also gone south of your area, e.g. from Potato Creek State Park to Kingsbury to Westville or from Bremen to Walkerton to Door Village.

    It looks like very few Strava riders have taken that road from Stillwell to Salem Heights. But those nearby county roads look good, both on Streetview and on Strava. What did you mean by “as long as I didn’t go past US4?”

    • #24
    • April 7, 2020, at 10:10 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Tree Rat Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tree Rat (View Comment):
    Our farm was near Stillwell (or Salem Heights, if you were really familiar with the area, which hardly anyone would be), south and a bit east of the county seat. The area has built up some over the decades. My siblings and I stopped to look at the old farmhouse a couple of years ago. It still stands, but has been completely redone inside. The current owner let us look inside — a big improvement, really. I used to ride the county roads south of us, as long as I didn’t go past US4, there was no real traffic back then. But that was then, of course.

    I’ve not been on that stretch of road. Usually I’m following the old Chicago Road/Sauk Trail from Niles to Door Village to Westville, with various alternatives for going through or around LaPorte. But I’ve also gone south of your area, e.g. from Potato Creek State Park to Kingsbury to Westville or from Bremen to Walkerton to Door Village.

    It looks like very few Strava riders have taken that road from Stillwell to Salem Heights. But those nearby county roads look good, both on Streetview and on Strava. What did you mean by “as long as I didn’t go past US4?”

    US 4 is one of the main highways out of LaPorte. That’s where the traffic was heavier, which was usually better to avoid. Salem Hts is on US 4, but 4 turns left to Fish Lake and you continue on Rte 104 to Stillwell. If you turned right instead, you would be on County Road 300S, which led to our farm. I would occasionally brave the traffic and ride to Fish Lake (or into LaPorte, itself) but that was destination-oriented instead of riding just to ride.

    • #25
    • April 8, 2020, at 3:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The most expensive hotels I have ever stayed in try to make their hotels as homelike as possible in their services and furnishings. It has always made me laugh at how much we spend to stay in a place where we are as comfortable as we are at home. :-)

    10,000 thread count linens, anything else is unacceptable

     

    • #26
    • April 8, 2020, at 5:32 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Whan that Aprille with his shuures sote

    the drought of March hath perced to the rote

    oh wait, never mind, wrong poem, wrong language, wrong conversation

     

    • #27
    • April 8, 2020, at 5:34 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Whan that Aprille with his shuures sote

    the drought of March hath perced to the rote

    oh wait, never mind, wrong poem, wrong language, wrong conversation

    Yeah, that was last April. You missed it by about four months.

    https://ricochet.com/607989/archives/quote-of-the-day-the-first-eighteen-lines/

     

    • #28
    • April 8, 2020, at 5:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    She (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Whan that Aprille with his shuures sote

    the drought of March hath perced to the rote

    oh wait, never mind, wrong poem, wrong language, wrong conversation

    Yeah, that was last April. You missed it by about four months.

    https://ricochet.com/607989/archives/quote-of-the-day-the-first-eighteen-lines/

     

    I wasn’t a member last April!

    I’m a ricochet novice

     

    • #29
    • April 8, 2020, at 5:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    She (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Whan that Aprille with his shuures sote

    the drought of March hath perced to the rote

    oh wait, never mind, wrong poem, wrong language, wrong conversation

    Yeah, that was last April. You missed it by about four months.

    https://ricochet.com/607989/archives/quote-of-the-day-the-first-eighteen-lines/

     

    it’s so weird reading canterbury tales in American English

     

    • #30
    • April 8, 2020, at 5:53 PM PDT
    • 1 like