Friday, March 13, 2009
Northern England, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I feel I must clarify why I have this opinion. There are beautiful natural places that are untouched by human hands, up high in the mountains, or things like waterfalls or places deep in the rain forest or remote in the desert. There are beautiful human designs like the pyramids or stone henge or the bright houses of the East coast. And then there is beauty half way in between, where nature and culture collide. This is the Yorkshire Dales. Civilization exists within the stark natural landscape and has adapted to the conditions there. From the rolling hills, the rocky soil, and the mist and rain results isolated stone houses, sheep pastures as far as the eye can see and strong stubborn farmers. The Dales comes to rely on tourism more and more as small-scale farming becomes unviable, but I hope it never changes too much. Directions by Joseph Stroud How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world. Take a plane to London. From King's Cross take the direct train to York. Rent a car and drive across the vale to Ripon, then into the dales toward the valley of the Nidd, a narrow road with high stone walls on each side, and soon you'll be on the moors. There's a pub, The Drovers, where it's warm inside, a tiny room, you can stand at the counter and drink a pint of Old Peculiar. For a moment everything will be all right. You're back at a beginning. Soon you'll walk into Yorkshire country, into dells, farms, into blackberry and cloud country. You'll walk for hours. You'll walk the freshness back into your life. This is true. You can do this. Even now, sitting at your desk, worrying, troubled, you can gaze across Middlesmoor to Ramsgill, the copses, the abbeys of slanting light, the fells, you can look down on that figure walking toward Scar House, cheeks flushed, curlews rising in front of him, walking, making his way, working his life, step by step, into grace.