The sun was shining, the dog and I were restless in the bookshop, and there was no river of impatient customers beating down our door, so we piled into the car and drove out to Peterson Park. I hadn't been out there since fall. Worth the trip! Who even needs a plowed road into the park when drawn irresistibly by beauty and excitement? Lakeshore or sunshore? There's North Manitou Island out in the distance, and you can even see the curve of the earth at the horizon, a drifting band of Arctic ice at the shoreline. Click! Click! Click! Every prospect pleased.
Last night I returned to England's Lake District, continuing with the life of Beatrix Potter. The accomplishments of Mrs. Heelis (as she preferred to be called after marrying William Heelis) were formidable. At home in the country, her writing and painting first had to make room for sheep-raising and tenant farm management, later for her considerable duties to the National Trust, which included not only raising money but also directly managing for the Trust large properties she had bought and transferred over, for their perpetual preservation. So much of what is preserved in the Lake District, so beloved of poets, hikers and naturalists from all over the world, has remained beautiful and wild and open to the public because of the unrelenting hard work of the author of THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT.
And yet, in Linda Lear’s biography, BEATRIX POTTER: A LIFE IN NATURE, we find a very simple, unassuming, straightforward, hard-working woman, whose own mother looked down on her for dressing as a “country woman.” Hooray, Beatrix! I say. Beatrix “retained a romantic’s love of both inclement weather and the rugged landscape. She had a quiet acceptance that things will often go wrong, yet she had remarkable patience and optimism. Loving the natural world as she did, Beatrix had long ago accepted that nature was wild, cruel and endlessly beautiful.” I fall short of her example in almost every way, but she has my deepest admiration.
Can one be a romantic if one loses the love of inclement weather? That’s my question for the morning, but the sun is bright above the horizon, and before it was up, puppy Sarah and I had already been out for a long, cold overland ramble in the first light of dawn. Surely that must count for something! Anyway, only a romantic would have a bookstore in Northport, right?