Sunday, January 29, 2017
Hello from the Chiltern Hills
Hello from the Chiltern Hills and the hilltop villages. Hello from my little cottage across the road from an Iron Age fort, nestled in the middle of ancient beech woodland. Hello from the cold and the rain and the countryside that is my cathedral. It's been twelve days since I arrived here from Los Angeles, after thirty years in that city, and slowly, I'm acclimatizing. This is my first post.
The waking in the middle of the night isn't better. But here there is silence at night. Sometimes an owl. And the blackest of skies. Yesterday, we could see the milky way. But last night I woke up to the horror of Trump's new immigration policies, and fell back asleep to dream of catastrophe - the end of the world played out in real time. The earth devouring itself. A fatal lurgy that is killing us slowly. I was with my mother and my father and my son, and everything was morphing. Ghosts and spirits were inhabiting our earthly plain and we knew we were dying. This morning there have been peaceful protests, and the ACLU has sprung into action, and a judge named Ann Donnelly has saved the day. From now on, every day needs to be saved. We can't just leave it to the park rangers. I had a similar vision the day after he was voted in and while meditating in yoga class, I imagined that it was the end of the world, that we had actually harmed the planet so much that the damage was irreparable. We cannot let this happen. We must resist. We must each play out part. Dark forces cannot be allowed to take over. Ever.
Be the lighthouse, says Yogi Bhajan.
My dear friends have sent me a picture with my darling Tej, the light shining from them in some weird photo filter, like angels, or characters from an eighties music video. I miss them. I miss the peace that being with friends brings.
But today we had our first Sunday lunch around the beautiful little pine table my sister has loaned me - Chicken Marbella and Norwegian Rice Pudding with cherry sauce. And I sat next to the woman who was my best friend from age 9 to 12, a fellow pony-mad girl, with whom I went on wild adventures, and we chatted as if we'd never been apart. And we lit the fire and the house was toasty, and my mother brought her dog over, and some primroses to plant in the garden. There was cheese and grapes and tangerines, some wine, potatoes with chives, and warmth.
And it felt like home. Nothing in the world feels better than a whole bunch of friends and loved ones around a table covered in yellow flowers, safe from the rain outside. I only wish my children had been there too.
"Aren't you glad you're out?" someone asked. Yes, but no. America's foundations have never been shaken like this before, not in my lifetime at least, and I want to be with my friends who are fighting back. But yes, it's lovely to be in a peaceful little cottage, with two fat shetland ponies outside my office window, and a huge oak tree in front of the gate, and a lovely man who is reading the papers in bed and clears his throat while he makes piles of clippings he wants to keep. Last night we danced in the kitchen and I felt lucky.
Shelves from IKEA have been put together. Yes, by me. Please do be impressed. I've discovered that nothing makes me happier than a hammer and a screwdriver. And he has a navy beanie and an ax and I hear him in the shed, splitting logs. He walks in with a pile, great smile on his face. We've adopted West Country accents because we think the local accent too estuary. We have lunches of bread and cheese and Greek salad and Cox's orange pippins. We walk to the pub for scampi and chips. We sit across from each other with our laptops and mugs of tea.
I'll tell you what it's like. It's a little like living in an episode of the long-running English radio soap play soap of country life, The Archers. On the very first day, in fact, a lovely woman called Eileen knocked on our door. "I have good news and bad news" she said. "The good news is that I have brought your flowers. The bad news is that my car is stuck in the mud by your gate. Would you mind if I used your phone to call for help." Eileen stayed for tea and became an invaluable resource for local information.
This is my solemn promise that moving forward I will post daily. I am so sorry to have been so lean for the last few months. This will become my morning routine, along with walking across the common.
Good night and sleep tight. Much love.
And remember, be the lighthouse.