Lake District Wanderlust
Foreward } Earlier this week I got a phone call from my dear friend telling me she was longing for far off lands, specifically the Lake District. I decided that for a present, I would give her one day of travel by making her a character in the beginning of a story. As for the rest of the story, it is up to her own imagination.
The air was crisp. The light was that dusky shade of amber that comes as the sun slides down into the edge of the east, like a jewel about to join its crown.
Joey took in a deep breath, trying to fill her lungs with that honey air. It was the same sun. The same sky. But she was in the lake district. Large bracken ferns brushed against her arms as she waded through to the field. She had a crude map drawn by a plump local woman who had the most surprising comb over of bright magenta hair. Joey thought of how her thoughts about the lake district in the past had been filled with Darcy’s and lace bonnets and flowery prose, and how the present day was certainly different in comparison, but no less full of fascinating characters to discover. Her excitement for the rest of her trip was not as dimmed as the sun was becoming.
When her plane landed, she promptly bought a ticket, frightfully looked for her station without her modern day I phone “compass” and rode all through the morning toward what she hoped to find: a stone circle on a faded photograph she had found in her great great grandmother’s hope chest. She had been Italian, but visited all sorts of adventurous corners of the world. Joey’s ancient Nona was young and vibrant in the photo, with a dashing looking young man without a shirt holding onto her arm. She grinned at the camera and he grinned at her. They were up against a large stone protruding from the earth, a few more stones jutting up in the near distance. On the back of the photograph their names and the stone circle were written.
Joey was wearing a paisley patterned chemise with a coral lace similar to the floral sun dress her Nona wore in the picture. She had a small backpack with her journal, stuffed with photographs of her husband and children, and a delicious book that took place right in this emerald countryside she found herself in. And, of course, a book filled with paintings by Beatrix Potter, for this is the where she had done them. Joey had already spotted a few flowers Beatrix had painted, and a bunny scampered out of the path when she found her way to the tiny village made entirely of shiny black slate and white washed doors. Holly hocks seemed to sprout up from every crack in the old stones. They towered above her as she wound down lanes lined with jagged slate walls.
Joey found a small inn with three rooms. Hers had an aqua sink, hobnail glass sconces, and gold leaf floral wall paper. There was a decrepit taxidermied fox hanging above a tufted yellow chair with a pillow embroidered with peonies. After her long train journey Joey finally laid down on her creaking bed and sighed, “It’s perfect.”
But she had no time to sit and linger. Joey was usually a very calculated girl. She planned, and rested, and normally would have stayed in to read, eat, then go to bed to leave adventure for the morning. But there was something inside her that longed for what was outside. She could see the bright green hills out her window and she would have leapt out of it right then if she were a robin. She packed her little pack, went out her door, careful to turn her skeleton key the correct way as she left, and flew down the stairs. There was no time for thinking. She would scamper toward those hills and find the stone circle nestled inside them right then. It was calling to her.
She saw the smoke before the stones. As Joey came into the clearing where the monoliths stood, she found a troupe of young people sitting around a campfire. “Oh!” she exclaimed. They all turned and looked a bit like deers in headlights at first, until one shaggy sand haired boy waved to her and spoke in a thick dialect Joey was uncertain of, “come on then, I’ve just roasted one and I think its meant for you.” Joey was never shy. Even if she felt nervous, she could always make friends and join in conversation. She took a place next to a girl with long flowing red hair and popped the perfectly browned marshmallow into her mouth.
When Joey came back to her dead fox, her head swam with shadowed stones against bright constellations, laughter that made her sides ache, tales of Chaucer, the taste of whiskey and burnt sugar, and the smell of rich, damp earth where she had fallen in the bracken on her way back. She rolled her eyes and spoke to the fox, “Don’t laugh.” She pulled rosemary from her braids.
She fell easily to sleep. She had been traveling, traveling, moving toward the end of this day since she’d dropped her passport into her purse at home. And it was only the beginning of an entire month in the countryside. She would meet her new friends at a coffee shop in the morning. They were letting her come with them to a castle on the sea cliffs the next day for a picnic. She slipped into dreaming of ruins and sirens and a white stag…and then honey amber air until morning.
image sources can be found on my pinterest HERE.