There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Thank You Agatha For The Dreams

“It's what's in yourself that 
makes you happy or unhappy.” 
 ~Agatha Christie, 'A Murder is Announced'

Today I have to thank a very special woman who's enriched my life beyond measure--Agatha Christie. She was born on this day in 1890 in Torquay, Devon and because of her, I became a complete Anglophile at the age of twenty-two. I'm not going to lie and say it was the literature of Jane Austen or the Brontes' windswept prose that made me first long for England--it was good, old-fashioned murder mysteries, and especially Miss Marple.

Way back, longer than I'm going to admit, I was a very young bride, about to become a very, very young mother. We were living in Laramie, Wyoming at the time, attending the University of Wyoming where I was in nursing school and my children's father was working on a master's degree. Laramie is a sweet, quiet and leafy college town, with tree lined streets and an old Carnegie Library. We had absolutely no money, I had the summer off from classes, and I was desperately ill with morning sickness 24 hours a day. I needed something to occupy my mind so I read all day, every day, all summer long. The library had every Miss Marple mystery and as the summer and my pregnancy progressed, I worked my way through them.

Laramie's Carnegie Library is still standing.
You can watch thunderstorms approach
Laramie across the vast Great Plains.
We lived just a few blocks from the library and I remember walking down the street, elm trees providing leafy shade, the town quiet since most of the students were gone, and maybe a summer thunderstorm off in the distance. The library was my sanctuary that summer, as it always was growing up. Laramie's library had the lovely old book smell I remembered from my childhood libraries, which soothed my poor little, nausea-wracked body. Often I'd time my trip to the library with the afternoon thunderstorm, so I could sit and read in the soft, safe light of the library while the storm raged outside. Pure heaven.

With each book, I became more entranced with the English countryside, learned what a 'herbaceous border' was, and decided afternoon tea was just my cup of tea. It was a world of gardens, and trains, and little village post offices. Where people had hushed conversations and lightly brushed scone crumbs off their laps; where sensible shoes and gloves were essential, and you could post a letter in the morning which would be received that same afternoon.
 'One does see so much evil in a village,' 
murmured Miss Marple in an explanatory voice.
 ~Agatha Christie, 'The Body in the Library'

A village 'fete'.
That summer as my tummy grew and I went through pack after pack of Dentyne gum to keep the nausea at bay, I also learned a whole new vocabulary. I longed to go to a village 'fete' (pronounced 'fate'), was desperate to eat a slice of 'Victoria Sponge' cake, and thought listening to the 'wireless' at night sounded far more romantic than watching TV.

By August I no longer fit into my clothes and I was officially an Anglophile. I wanted to grow hollyhocks in my herbaceous border, meet my friends for afternoon tea, and have supper in a little village pub. I wanted to live in a thatched cottage, be married to a village vicar (sorry husband No. 1), and ride the train wearing gloves and a hat. Most of all I just wanted to go to England because I knew, just knew, it was where I belonged. I knew I'd fit into a place where gardens, and dogs, and country walks are what constitutes a happy life. I knew that the people who created the Victoria Sponge cake and took time out from gardening to have a mug of tea were my kind of people.

It took two more babies after my first baby, and 16 more years before I finally realized my dream, my daily/nightly/constant dream of 'going to England'. It was 1994 and I'm happy to say England didn't disappoint. It was everything I dreamed it would be back in the old library in Laramie, and it changed my life. From the day I first stepped foot in England I've never looked back. Of course since it isn't 1954, I don't ride the train wearing gloves and a hat and we don't sit by the wireless at night; and perhaps more importantly I've never witnessed a murder at a vicarage. 

But even better, I do live many of the things I imagined as I turned each page of each well-worn Miss Marple story. We do take long, countryside walks (in wellies) with our beloved dogs, we do have afternoon tea as often as possible (with as much Victoria Sponge as possible), and I do have an English garden with hollyhocks and hedgehogs (and chickens).

Sometimes dreams really do come true and thank you Agatha Christie for gifting me with those dreams. For Miss Jane Marple I am forever grateful. Happy Birthday Agatha.

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