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Country people

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Native oaks on the shores of Windermere, whose valley was carved by the Ice Age 15,000 years ago, and a flock of Swaledale sheep.
Image: Beautiful Britain

Looking at this picture I was thinking that I was only two generations removed from farmers who spent much of their lives outdoors tending animals and land. They saw the sky before the sun rose and felt the first frosts and dug a path to the barn through the snow. They ploughed and planted and harvested to feed their cows and horses and themselves. They rode into town to buy supplies and vote, and built a church so they could worship down the road. What they did they did expertly because their lives depended on it, and if they wept, they wept alone. They never shed a public tear at funerals. They were tough and strong, independent and team-spirited, and their house was more beautiful than any I have known.

It was an American farmhouse, with a porch that wrapped around the house. Inside were wide polished floor board, a hearth, and a curving staircase. Close by these stairs, in season, a Christmas tree used to stand. Even to a child, the farm and the farmhouse suggested timeless knowledge.

The family lived at Brandywine Summit. Like the country people of Britain, they had a respect for law and a love for land and freedom.

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