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.

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