Tuesday, August 25, 2009

an english harvest from long ago


every so often i get homesick.
forty-three years, two months and nine days ago
i came to canada.
leaving a lot behind.
perhaps more than i can say here.
because i don't know all of it.

but i do know that when i visit my english bloggy friends.
and read their tellings of late summer in england.

when i read my mary webb books.
my thomas hardy.

i'm home.

with a familiar aching in my heart.
even after all this time.

~

it's late summer and the fields are filled with ripe crops of all sorts.

a very long time ago,
in a simpler time the harvest was ready to be taken in.

war loomed on the horizon,
the economy was struggling,
but there was still an england recognizable as the gentle place

i still call home.

30 comments:

Kay said...

My God Steven, your words and that wonderful piece of film made me almost weep with nostalgia...my great grand parents farmed like this, my g.g father walked with a limp from years of walking behind the horses with the plough....maybe thats why i love the countryside and the seasons so much!! Such a hard life but somehow i envy it. Thank you for this lovely post.
Kay

NanU said...

I feel just that way when I think of Southern California. You can take the girl out of the desert, but not the desert out of the girl.

jinksy said...

This makes me feel homesick - and I still live here! :)

steven said...

hello kay - thanks for your heartfelt comments! i was born in 1957 but there was still very much an england that was recognizably england. to try to define that to someone not from there and is well nigh impossible but it's something to do with a familiar goodness. a feeling of all's right with the world.
i can see a photograph of england feel that ache i described in my heart - still - after all this time. ahhhh me!!! have a peaceful day kay! steven

steven said...

ah nanu, i've never seen a desert but i've been drawn to the desert in the way my heroes thesiger, and t.e. lawrence were. for no apparent reason but there it is! i hope one day to actually spend time in a desert and then perhaps i'll connect more directly to your comment. we each carry emotional referents to what constitutes home no matter where we end up!! thanks for dropping by!! steven

steven said...

yes jinksy - it describes an england that for the most part is gone. it can be found tucked away in little corners, carefully preserved or obliviously carrying on but as a whole it is buried. i hope that (like king arthur) it will return one day - changed - but still recognizable. have a peaceful day. steven

Rachel Fox said...

Written with love which is always good.
x

steven said...

love's always good! steven

willow said...

Gorgeous photo. And the harvesting flim was just delightful. Happy memories, Steven. Bring on the fall!!!

ellen abbott said...

Still, after all these years! I've never been to England but my ancestry comes from there. And Germany.

steven said...

hello willow - like you, i love the autumn more than any other season of the year! thanks for dropping by. steven

steven said...

hi ellen, it's a bit pathetic really but there you have it. yep, i still get homesick after all that time!!! it's not the same there no so it's a romantic memory of england that sustains my homesickness. thanks for dropping by!!!! steven

Abraham Lincoln said...

This is an exceptional post, Steven. I began watching the video and found the things being done in it was like the things we did on farms over here when I was a youngster. Everything was the same and then later we did get steam engines to thresh the grain and blow the straw into a large pile. The horses working were beautiful and bring back lots of memories of names I once knew. If you had lived it, Steven, then the memory of those times would sometimes haunt you as they do me.

steven said...

hi abe - i'm so glad you enjoyed this journey into the past. the movie depicts events that are before my time but little bits of it are familiar to me despite having been born in '57. there's a tone about it that matches something of my childhood. have a peaceful day. steven

Jane Moxey said...

Oh what a beautiful nostaligic movie. What a gem! It made me remember the lyrics of an old English folk song which I'll type up here for you. I think I'm remembering the words right: "My young sister at the stooking/Hid with someone in the hay/ Who is was I do not know/ For her sister I am looking." Guess 'stooking' and 'looking' were rhyming which suggests it might have been a North Country song about harvesting!
Amazing to think that the year after this peaceful harvest England was at war. Thanks for a lovely post.

steven said...

hi jane - i'm very glad that you visited and enjoyed the film!!! the lyrics you provided are really intriguing and i have started a search for the title and of course the rest of the song - unless you know it, in which case i'll call off the golden fish research department who are now scouring the 'net, with the promise of vinegared cucumber sandwiches for the one who finds it!!! thanks for your fascinating comment!!! steven

Jane Moxey said...

Hi Steven: Before I typed up that old song for you, I had a go Googling for it... to no avail. Google didn't like the word "Stooking." Actually it was a round song. ie: one voice would start it and then another would come in when the second line was sung by the first singer! Like "Frere Jacques...." Hmm maybe "Old English Round Songs" might be worth a look.... I like your incentive of vinegared cucumber sandwiches -- on thin brown buttered bread, I trust!! I'm off for another little look to see if I can find out more....

Kathleen said...

The film transported me back to my favorite scene in all of literature -- when Levin in Anna Karenina works in the fields.

And your remembrance was lovely and poignant.

I have a hard time explaining to people the lure of Galveston. It's not the most beautiful beach in the world. But it is filled with beautiful memories and smells and sensations.

How lovely that we can share these moments with our friends.

Warmly,
Kathleen

steven said...

hi jabe, thanks for digging and rooting around and especially thanks for the search tips!!! ummmm about the sandwiches - some would be on thin brown buttered bread and some on white. i'll keep looking. this is a lovely way to spend an afternoon!!! thanks. steven

Friko said...

Hi Steven, I didn't know you are an expat Brit.
This feeling of "nostalgia for no known place" (the name of the obscure poet who said this escapes me) never goes away. It doesn't matter how acclimatised you've become to the new home, the old home - which no longer exists - pulls and pulls.
A bit of a wallow often helps, as I am sure you know.

steven said...

ahhh kathleen - you're a romantic aren't you!!! there is something runs deep in us that draws us to places others would find unlikely candidates as the home of our hearts and that's why it's hard to explain to others why we can't help ourselves. it's our home. like it or not. it may be run-down, barren, even ugly but it's home in our hearts. have a lovely evening. steven

Titus said...

Oh steven, that demon nostalgia at work again. It's strange how the past, even if it's not our past, summons that mixture of emotions and longing. Thank you, this is a very complex area and the post and the comments have made me think harder. Have a lovely day.

steven said...

hello titus, well you know absence makes the heart grow fonder and it's been twenty years since i was home. but i've always felt this way and connected to a time that was really before mine. it has helped me value simpler things - many of which appear on this blog. it guides me towards a selectively healthier approach to life!!! thanks by the way, i am having a lovely day!!!! it's sunny and warm and windy and leaf rustly. mmmmmm. late summer!!! steven

Titus said...

leaf rustly, I love leaf rustly! Unfortunately only leaf sodden here at the moment.

steven said...

hello friko - oh yes. i emigrated here in 1966 from manchester, i went home almost every year after that until 1991 when i became a teacher. hmmmm. what's that all about?!!! i love to feel that ache . . . i guess that's a sort of wallow isn't it?!!! steven

hope said...

A group of the senior citizens I work with are British ladies who married American soldiers...we call them the "British Wives Club". They often share tales like this one, so as I read you, I could "hear" them talking and describing home. We've all but banned them from singing "I'll be home for Christmas" at the Christmas party because there are so many tears...and yet every year, I put tissues on the table. :)

Talk about irony! That little boy Gary in my post today's family was from somewhere outside London. {I'll have to check the baby book for the address again}. When I asked one of the British ladies where that was, she walked me to the map in the office, pointed it out and then said, "And I lived 10 miles down the road!"

Life is interesting...thanks for sharing a moment of yours. :)

steven said...

hope that made me laugh!!! here i am a middle-aged man getting lumped in with the senior citizen ladies!!! but i get it - i really do!!! i can't explain why i'm as soppy as i am about this one feature of my life but i am! i don't cry about it - but i do go on about it at times.
the tiny world we live in, of which we are reminded on a constant basis - "i lived ten miles down the road". well it's constantly astonishing isn't it hope?! have a lovely evening. steven

steven said...

well titus, i may change my note tonight - it's supposed to rain - but right now it's looking anything but!!! b 'bye steven

Alaine said...

Completely understand your yearning for your homeland. DMJ was taken back to his childhood home in Cornwall 2 yrs ago and felt a real 'belonging' - he was 4 when he left.

I adored that accompanying little film - and your words.

steven said...

hello alaine, it's so hard to explain, and even harder to rationalize. i've lived her for so long but then i see you understand so perhaps i'm not off the mark after all!!! i loved the film - for all its old-fashioned, stereotyping it was still lovely. thanks for visiting. steven