This was the last photograph I took on our trip to England in late August of this year. I was tired, having climbed over moors, through the dales and back again at least four times over the course of the three hours or so. The flatness of this picture belies the vertical bent of everything in England. The sunset was magnificent because the clouds in the sky possessed such an impressionist character. The patch of sycamores on the horizon grew closer and closer as we approached the setting sun, with Top Withens (the inspiration for Wuthering Heights) behind us. There were no paths towards the top of the hike, which should have been an early harbinger of the difficulty of the climb. For all I knew (and willingly shared with the rest of the hiking group), we were likely the only masochists to have made the hike for generations. As we wended our way through the dense heather and tall wild grasses and bracken ferns, and I gasped for breath at manageable intervals, I thought back on that field twelve years prior where I proposed in a similar field across the valley from Anna’s grandparent’s house, amongst a small herd black and white Friesians.
The beauty of Yorkshire has ceased to surprise me. By this, I do not mean that it has become any less wondrous or awe inspiring, only that I have come to expect to look out on a field and see the beauty that inspired the Brontës and Wordsworth and John Constable and all of the other artists that have spent their lives’ work attempting to capture the magnificence of this landscape. Indeed, the sky was something out of Constable’s painting of Salisbury Cathedral (sans the rainbow). The beauty is almost laughably ubiquitous. I have been to England three times now, and each time I am left with the distinct sensation that I was born on the wrong continent. My archaic turns of phrases, my passion for history and ancient things, all find root in the mother country. Anna’s grandmother, a strong Yorkshire woman, who still travels the world at 94, has adopted me as her “cloth” grandson, an appellation that I take very seriously, and I have been warmly embraced by the network of aunties and cousins — just the toe-holds I needed to claim a bit of Yorkshire as my own.
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