At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
-T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”
“Do I dare to eat a peach?”
-T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
After a year of overcrowded commutes, loud neighbours, litter, pollution, and everything else that goes with a densely-populated metropolis, we have decided to move out of London proper, into the Hertfordshire countryside. I will still be forty minutes by fast train from the heart of London, to serve consulting clients, visit museums, and attend poetry readings. But in deciding where to reside and where to visit, having quiet natural surroundings at our doorstep, and world-class culture and work opportunities a short train ride away — seems like the best possible mix for Val and me at this stage of our lives.
London is a great, energetic city, but from the start I have also felt its centrifugal force. One is either at the very center of things, thriving on that experience — and abiding all that goes with it — or, gradually, it seems that those who aim for a more relaxed pace of life get edged further out over time.
I miss the community we had in Ojai, the small town in California we called home for the six years leading up to our leap across the pond, and hope to recapture some of that spirit, and discover unique aspects of rural English life, in our new village of Wheathampstead. We will be just up the road from Shaw’s Corner, in a cluster of historic villages (many dating back to Roman times), surrounded by gently rolling fields and lush forests, cut by brooks and public footpaths, dotted with farms and country pubs.
Moving day is a week from tomorrow, with a long list of to-dos between now and then. See you again in the countryside!