The sun actually started peeking out between the clouds. I stood among the flower pots neatly arranged on the brick patio in the back yard (or garden as Mrs. M called it). I soaked in the warmth of the sun rays. Jill headed across the lawn to the “sports field” which was basically the neighbor’s yard. Donna and I followed her over there, found a bench and basked in more sunshine while. At home, it seems I’m always looking for shade, but here I only wanted natural radiant heat. An umbrella style clothes hanger caught my eye and I watched an older gentleman unpin hanging towels and shirts. I wondered if we’d invaded his space but he continued to gather clothes without much concern for us. I figured this was a shared yard of some sort. I got up and kicked the ball a few times and concluded that was my exercise for the day. On the brick patio Mrs. M showed the garden-loving Donna her many flowers and plants.
Chris spotted a concrete, knee-high, mushroom shaped object at the edge of the patio. “What is that?
“Those were used as the foundation for old barns.” Mrs. M. set down her pruning shears on a wooden table along with and handful of freshly cut flowers. She ran her fingers up and down the odd relic. “Can you guess why it is shaped that way?” Chris shrugged his shoulders. She pointed to the mushroom cap. “This part here – kept the rats from getting up inside.” I suddenly thought of a great idea for a PBS after school program – Ask Mrs. M – English living presented to a group of American kids sitting around this tranquil garden, Viewers would learn, but most importantly feel a pleasant sense of wholesomeness – like Mr. Rodgers with an apron.
This is what I’d hoped for in England. It seemed the perfect environment to break out a pipe, pull on a tweed sweater, and sit beside a crackling fire writing poetry with a fountain pen. Maybe I was getting old, but this was all I wanted in a vacation. Forget speedboats and crowds under the hot sun. Keep your palm trees and tanning butter, I’d prefer this oasis of order and manners, even if cold and damp. I didn’t need a waiter in a tiki shirt trying to up-sell me a super-sized Singapore Sling. I’d rather enjoy a cup of tea from a sweet English woman like Mrs. M.
I just wanted to be taken care of.