15 May 2012

Caelum Non Animum Mutant

C. H. Middleton (1886-1945) in Village Memories (London: Cassell, 1941), via wartimegardening.co.uk:
Choosing a holiday is always something of a problem; in most cases the family opinions and desires have to be taken into account, but in my case economic considerations narrow down the choice somewhat, and this year I found it more difficult than usual to make up my mind. Should I go abroad? I could probably find a cheap ten-day tour to some uninteresting place or other, get a number of impressive looking labels stuck on my suitcase, and come back worn out and kidding myself I had had a marvellous time; but somehow the idea didn't appeal to me. I stood on the main road and saw and smelt the roaring procession of cars making for the sea; I watched the stream of sweating cyclists with their heads bent low and their coat-tails flying; I pictured the crowded beach, shimmering in the glare of the sun, and smelt the cockle stalls and the peppermint rock; and a feeling of laziness came over me. Any kind of travel seemed to demand a greater measure of energy than I possessed, so why, I reasoned with myself, should I do anything at all? 
I possess a pleasant garden, complete with shady trees, a hammock and comfortable chairs, and rarely do I get the opportunity to enjoy them for more than an hour or so at a time; and the more I pondered the more the garden called me, until at last I decided to stay at home and rest -- to enjoy a good book or two in the company of my beloved roses; perhaps to work or play a little as the spirit moved me. To forget the clock and be absolutely free -- free to follow my own immediate impulses; free from the daily grind and the restraining hand of time and convention -- and thus it came to pass.