Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reality often doesn't match the vision

"Cut down that timber! Bells, too many and strong,

Pouring their music through the branches bare,"

The above from The Planster's Vision by Sir John Betjeman

While listening to the BBC news on the radio recently I heard a story of a farmer in Annecy, France who is being taken to court - because of cow bells. Annecy is to the East in France, not particularly far from where I lived for two years. Bucolic, pastoral, with the beauty of Geneva, the French Alps, Mont Blanc and the Jura mountains all around.

It seems the cow bells are disturbing people who wish for the "quiet countryside". Similar people have file lawsuits in France calling for the silencing of cocks crowing in the early morn and church bells - hence the quote above.

People like that give "Townies" a bad name!

People, enamored of the beauty and peace of the countryside have chosen to leave the rat race, close up the loft, garret, pretty little bed-sit or what have you and plant themselves in the rich and fertile soil of la belle France.

It is truly a case of "no matter where you go, there you are".

Dick and I have commented over the years on how distant society has become from the rhythms of life- the rhythms to be found outside the city, or in an earlier time, or even in the monastic life.

Patterns, cycles, of sleep, work and prayer (particularly in the monastic life but not, by definition, absent from other life choices).

Maybe it's the cost one pays for the benefits of civilization.

It is my belief that the filers of such lawsuits, while living in the country, are trying to live in the idea of "countryside". It doesn't work.

I do not know of the failure or success of such lawsuits. I know the outcome I would choose but, as these people have discovered, such is not always granted to us.

My advice: stop and smell the roses. There well may be fertilizer to smell along with the roses - but that is, in a very real sense, life. Don't try to avoid it.

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