Sunday, March 14, 2010

Travels in A Donkey Trap

It all began with a telegram...

"Daisy Baker was born in 1894 in Shoreditch, London, but bred in the country, where her father was a milkman. She went from elementary school into domestic service, married in 1921 and later moved back to her beloved countryside again. [As of 1974] she lives with her daughter and son-in-law in North Devon, together with her Darkie [the donkey], several goats, six cats and a rabbit.

"In 1970, at the age of 76, Daisy Baker acquired a donkey and a trap and regained her mobility in North Devon, England. She calls it "the freedom of the universe". This little book is a story of reconciliation with her past: her childhood in the country, her period as between-maid to the bishop's daughter, her first love during the first World War, and her marriage."

For the modern-day reader, it is a glimpse into the past, traveling down English lanes drawn by a donkey with a mind of its own.

I was lucky in being one of those for whom the speed of a journey was its least important aspect - I didn't have appointments to keep and I was under no pressure from time in any way, for it really wouldn't matter if I were home late to dinner. I felt I had slipped back a century, or at least to the days of my childhood, when the pace of life was so much more relaxed. For here I was, moving through the lane at a lingering pace, needing neither to brake nor accelerate, feeling as much a part of it all as the rooted trees and the magpie flashing black and white just beyond the donkey's nose.....None of this would have occurred to me had I been whisked there by car.

Not for everyone, perhaps, the peace of a wood on a summer day. yet to be solitary there is not to be lonely. My mind teems with thoughts and impressions, with fancies and realities. Although I thought of these as storybook woods, when I looked at them from the donkey cart they are not only real when I walk in them, but impress me with the feeling that nothing is quite so real as a wood. here in this community of trees I am aware of life, and never have I been so aware as now of the two aspects, the seen and the not seen. I muse on the unseen element in all things.

Travels in A Donkey Cart, by Daisy Baker. Offered for sale by Chewybooks, as of March 14, 2010.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

One does not love breathing.

Absolute most favorite book:

"I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers. In the long hours of church- was it then I learned? I could not remember not being able to read hymns. Now that I was compelled to think about it, reading was something that just came to me, as learning to fasten the seat of my union suit without looking around, or achieving two bows from a snarl of shoelaces. I could not remember when the lines above Atticus's moving finger separated into words, but I had stared at them all the evenings in my memory, listening to the news of the day, Bills To Be Enacted Into Laws, the diaries of Lorenzo Dow - anything Atticus happened to be reading when I crawled into his lap every night. Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

"I could not remember not being able to read...."

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, published 1960 (First Edition cover pictured).