Posts Tagged ‘England’

Mileage today:  2.95 miles, which reflects the fact that I didn’t get out for my usual walk.  I blame meetings, etc. 

The lack of mileage means that I can reflect on reading, specifically my progress through what I consider the quintessential Yorkshire novel, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.  I began my Yorkshire reading with a Bronte, Charlotte, but the first novel was Villette, not the most Yorkshire of the Bronte productions.  But WH puts me smack dab in the middle of the place where Nick and I will be walking coming July 2010.  Here is the gratuitous portrait of Emily.

I first read WH as a senior in AP English class in high school with Nelson Sudderth, the second of my most memorable English teachers at Girls Preparatory School.  Since I have the 45 minute commute each way to and from the Haute, I am “reading” this book via Audible.  I suppose listening may not be the same as reading, but I can say in truth that listening to the following passage is even more hair-raising than reading it the first time way back sometime in 1977-78:

“This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten.

‘I must stop it, nevertheless!’ I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, ‘Let me in – let me in!’

‘Who are you?’ I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself.

‘Catherine Linton,’ it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton) – ‘I’m come home: I’d lost my way on the moor!’ As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, ‘Let me in!’ and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear.

‘How can I!’ I said at length. ‘Let me go, if you want me to let you in!’ The fingers relaxed, I snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer. I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on!

‘Begone!’ I shouted. ‘I’ll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years.’

‘It is twenty years,’ mourned the voice: ‘twenty years. I’ve been a waif for twenty years!’ Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust forward. I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright.”

I don’t think fiction gets more blood-curdling than this passage.  This is the kind of book that Nelson said should be read “at high noon in a crowd.”  She has a gift for the bon mot

This novel puts me in mind of Yorkshire not only because of its setting.  The brutality of Heathcliff, the raw passion of Cathy, the emotions of these characters makes me think that Yorkshire will be a landscape of extremes.  How else would the story evolve in the mind of Emily Bronte?


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Mileage:  2 miles walking the golf course, 3.5 miles for the day.

Although the mileage remains the prime mover (apropos of walking), I promised to read Yorkshire-appropriate literature.  Thus, Charlotte Bronte.

As part of the perambulation project, I plan to read Yorshire literature, but I started with a non-Yorkshire Bronte novel, Villette, because I have been thinking about this novel in particular.  It isn’t set in Yorkshire but is still authored by a Bronte.  Please add the necessary umlaut above the “e.”

I have been a Brontes reader since high school.  In Nelson Sudderth’s AP English class (Girls Preparatory School, class of 1978)l, we read Wuthering Heights, my first foray with a Bronte, Emily.  In graduate school, Brontes were on my reading list–The Professor, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Shirley, Agnes Grey, Jane Eyre, Villette.  Granted, this is a heck of a lot of Brontes.

Wuthering Heights always satisfies, Heathcliff and Cathy and the successive generations repeating the obsessions of every previous generation.  And film adaptations are inspiring.  Who beats Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff?  But Villette poses unique challenges, challenges that I seem to have forgotten since I last read it sometime in 1990-1.  The challenge is Lucy herself.   

Lucy is the first-person narrator of the novel, and it is through her perspective that we learn everything about the students and teachers at the French school where she is employed.  And yet, in reading the novel again, I was reminded how much Lucy Snowe keeps from us, how many of her feelings are only indirectly revealed through the narrative.

For instance, I forgot how absolutely secretive Lucy Snowe is.  She won’t explain the personal family disaster that forces her to seek her fortune in France.  Likewise, she takes the letters that Dr. Graham Breton writes to her and buries them beneath the ancient pear tree in a sealed glass container, but she never explains why she decided to “bury” her feelings (although seeing Polly and Dr. Breton together might be a clue).  And why does she redirect her feelings to the Professor, when she just a moment earlier felt so strongly for Breton?  She won’t explain.  She won’t confess.  Everything she feels remains her secret.

And that’s what I like about this book.  I appreciate a fictional creation who can keep her deepest feelings to herself.  More of us should be keeping our feelings to ourselves.  Enough of confession, revelation, and public display.

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 May 4 mileage:  2 miles around the Ropes course and front of campus, 4.5 miles for the day

May 5 mileage:  2.5 miles around the Wetland and Maple Avenue Lake, 5+ for the day

May 6 mileage:  3 miles total, with a short jaunt in Hawthorne Park

I decided to try a new route on Tuesday, going around the Sport and Rec Complex and meeting up with the area near the front of campus that is dedicated to the Ropes Course.  This route takes me around the baseball and softball fields, then across the front of the Rose-Hulman campus.

The gentle rise and fall of the front campus is a better challenge than the even, paved paths of other routes, more like the hills that we will face in England.  The only drawback is that the new route brings me right to Highway 46 and the constant traffic.  I prefer the quiet of Hawthorne Park, or the geese threats of the Wetlands.

I am still keeping up my mileage by supplementing a mid-day walking break of 2 miles with additional walking on the golf course at Pine Woods.  The combination is keeping me at roughly 5 miles per day.  I won’t think much right now about the 10 miles that I will need to complete during the week of July 17th to 24th.

While I appreciate the additional walking I can do on the golf course, I wonder why I am paying the extra fee for a cart when I am not using it.  Nick drives the clubs while I hike the fairways.  Actually I have carried my golf bag in the past, and the experience isn’t that pleasant.  And the cart comes in handy when I have to scale the near vertical cart paths at our local course.  If only there could be a golf cart to ferry me up the likely hills in Yorkshire.

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Mileage:  2 miles around Maple Avenue Lake and the Wetland Trail at Hawthorne Park.  Total mileage for the day:  4.6.

The path up to the lake is bordered by blooming honeysuckle:

After a solid weekend of rain, the skies cleared on Monday, so the trip around Maple Avenue Lake was particularly pleasant.  I passed several fishermen.  God, I hope they don’t eat what they catch . . .

The fishing theme was reinforced when I got to the other side of the lake.  In the trash bin was the empty package for a Barbie fishing rod and reel.  I can just imagine the pink, sparkled rod and reel that helped a little girl and her patient dad share the joy!

The route around the lake offers different fauna than the Wetlands route.  In fact, I see a lot more turtles at the lake than I do at the wetland.  They prefer the dead trees half submerged, like the tree pictured below.  The turtle breeds are various–painted, snapping, etc.–but they line up on the log and sun themselves with equanimity.  And when I get too close, they roll off.  Sometimes all I know of their presence is the watery plop of each one as they fall in.

I did get to see a box turtle today.  This one was incredibly patient and posed for his picture.  This was my second sighting of a box turtle today.  As I drove to work around 7:30, I passed a box turtle who was crossing Highway 46 in the lane opposite to mine.  I am always tempted to stop the car and run back to ferry a box turtle across the road.  I can do this on my country road without too much concern, but attempting turtle rescue on Highway 46 could be a risky for me as it is for the turtle.

Not all the fauna at the lake is natural and untamed.  I met up with Mickey, the German pointer dog who belongs to a friend.  He is a runner, very athletic, and a swimmer too.  When we met up, he let me pet him, and I earned a damp hand for my trouble.

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Walking mileage:  2.79 around the wetland, 5+ miles total for the 29th (mileage boosted by walking the golf course).

New route:  around the perimeter of the Hawthorne Park Wetland:

I also took along a better camera than the one on my Blackberry.  Even with better equipment, however, I couldn’t get good shots of the birds and other fauna I encountered which included a pin-tail duck, a kingfisher, geese with goslings, mallards, and redwing blackbirds.  The blackbirds enjoy perching on the spent cattails:

The mallards, male and female, swam off in the small swamp that is adjacent to the wetland:

I also sighted a beaver, swimming with all his might with a twig in his teeth.  Again, poor camera equipment meant that his picture wasn’t really worth publishing.

On Friday, I took the day off from Rose-Hulman and spent my day at home trying to get the wilderness at Lobster Creek under control.  It seems that digging, weeding, and mowing can earn you 4+ miles, which means I am keeping my mileage up. 

 The plan for the weekend is to do a longer walk, either at McCormick’s Creek State Park or out on our country road to Highway 46 and back, 8+ miles.  Let’s see how the weather holds.

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I ended yesterday, April 27th, with 5.0+ miles, a result of walking both at my 11:00 appointed time and walking the golf course when we played at Pine Woods around 6:30.  That is about half of what we can expect to walk on the tour this summer.  Right, time to build up mileage and endurance.

Today I went to Indianapolis to interview for the Mira Award, and I lost my appointed 11:00 hour.  The pedometer reads 2.78 miles, not bad since I spent a good bit of day in the car driving from Spencer, to Indy, to Terre Haute, and back to Spencer.  Not to worry–11:00 is on my Outlook calendar tomorrow, and nothing will stop me.

Perhaps it is time to discuss the reading list.  The plan is to read extensively in region-appropriate fiction, and that has to mean Brontes!  Woo hoo!  Unfortunately I took a weird Bronte route for my first reading report.  I am reading Vilette by Charlotte Bronte.  Don’t get me wrong.  Charlotte is far and away the best Bronte going, but Vilette isn’t set in the Yorkshire Dales, but in France, where Lucy Snow works as an English teacher for over-priviledged girls in a boarding school.  Needless to say, the frequent French quotes, not accompanied with translations, make the work slow-going.  But the region-appropriate rule applies to the origin of the author, rather than the subject of the fiction.

Vilette was on my Ph.D. list way back in 1990 at Emory.  At this point I can’t remember a damn thing about this book, so I look upon the Walking Project as the perfect time to reacquaint myself with Charlotte Bronte, Lucy Snow, and Ginevra Fanshawe.

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Here’s the project:

Take a 7 day walking trip across England from the Yorkshire Dales to the Lake District, July 2010. Prepare for the trip by building up walking endurance every day (or just about) from now, April 26, until July. Read region-appropriate literature (Brontes, Wordsworth, Peace).

So in order to start, I have to, want to, walk.  Today I did 1/2 hour through Hawthorne Park, which is located adjacent to my college’s campus.

26 April 2010

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