Town and country

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Well, I’m typing away here with that old saying running through my mind… all dolled up and nowhere to go. I was supposed to get into town today, and thought I’d better make an effort to look respectable, rather than the current rather eccentric look… which I believe is referred to as ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’. There have been other things on my mind than wasting time looking presentable. The dog simply doesn’t care and neither do I.

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Now, town, as you may have gathered, is far from my favourite place. I will avoid it at all costs except when strictly necessary. However, sometimes that is the case and needs must. It is odd really, as I enjoy big cities and small country towns. The vibe in a city is lively and sparkles, the little country places are invariably quaint with lovely old architecture to soften the inevitable madness. On the other hand, there are the dormitory towns that were once beautiful but grew too fast in the boom days, demolishing history to make way for commerce and chain stores. These are really not my cup of tea.

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Grudgingly I headed towards mayhem, but some kind of hold up a mile from my destination saw traffic at a standstill. After nearly half an hour of moving mere yards, I gave up and came home instead. Town can wait till tomorrow… there was too much to do here to waste time sitting in a traffic jam. Of course, to escape the busy streets I was obliged to come home a different way, a longer way, and that took me beyond the town in minutes.

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Around me fields full of rapeseed blaze in the sunlight, and fields of young crops are the most vivid of greens. We have hedgerows in this area, hedgerows I will curse later in the year as I cannot see the horizon beyond them and find them claustrophobic after the dry stone walls of the north. But even I cannot complain when banks of wild violets nestle beneath the heavy hawthorn blossom and foam of cow parsley.

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A foggy, unpromising morning had given way to sunshine and the landscape responded, dressing itself in the colours of spring. Although the sky is still a little overcast and the sunlight thin, it seems to take little provocation for the countryside to bloom. It irks me to be stuck indoors at this time of year… but needs must. There is a lot to be done and the word responsibility keeps reining in my desire to go out and play and today has been one of those days when the backlog of work has simply had to be addressed.

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I know that much of the month of May is already spoken for, and I will, it appears, get more than my fair share of playing out, as friends from the States will be here, and the road will take me around the country and even, briefly, as far north as another friend… and I can’t wait. Not that I am complaining, mind you. Even the drive to my son’s home every day is glorious… five miles through lovely countryside… and the lane at the end of my little street leads straight out into fields, woods and the manor grounds. It is not as if I am starved of beauty within walking distance… and that is one area where responsibility meets desire as the small dog and I walk there.

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It isn’t always the case, though, is it? And it is a big word, that, bigger than the sum of its letters. We have responsibilities, accept them, shoulder them, take them… and sometimes shirk, avoid and evade them. We cannot, however, escape them. Once they are there, once we have the vaguest understanding of the concept we can, at worst, only ignore them and even that is a choice for which we must accept … responsibility. No matter how much we try, there is always at the very least our responsibility for, and to, ourselves… for our choices and actions, for who we choose to be and the face we choose to show the world. Perhaps that is the most important responsibility of all, because from there the rest flow.

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