We live by the sea in Cornwall. Our village may be small, but it’s a ‘proper’ little village, complete with a grocery store and post office, inn with panoramic sea views, church, primary school, village hall, coffee shop, restaurant and visiting mobile bank and library. The nearest town is ten miles away and the city, to which many commute, is a twenty mile drive.
Just above our home, no more than 250 yards from the shops, there used to live a delightful couple in their nineties. They had given up their car long ago, but once a week they walked down to the village. They made it a real occasion and called it ‘going to town!’ Gentleman Jim and Lady Brenda, dressed in their summer finery. He in smart trousers and blazer with pocket handkerchief and she in a flowing frock and beribboned hat. You’d think they were going to visit the Queen. They walked hand in hand down the hill, taking their time, pausing now and again for a chat with passersby. After completing their business and a leisurely lunch, they’d make their slow return, stopping halfway to rest on a low wall, surveying the scene and breathing in the sea breeze.
I felt there was something to learn from this elderlycouple. Something that had been mainly outside my experience, with so many years of racing to and from work. This was however brought home to me a few weeks ago.
I had been cooped up inside with an tenacious infection, plus a heavy chest cold, too long. Although my energy and strength were much depleted, I’d had enough of the frustration and started on my recovery campaign. The first day I stepped outside and gloried in the champagne morning air. It was good to be alive. A few more steps and I spied the first snowdrop, winking at me through the undergrowth. Each short time in the village was packed with enjoyable encounters, such that it seemed they had been orchestrated by Someone.
The illness is behind me now, but I will never tire of ‘going to town.’ I don’t ever want to be so busy or preoccupied, that I take for granted and miss the God-given things, events or people that are close up right under my nose.