Do you take time to stand and stare?

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Rhea is writing: To my surprise, James Herriot’s books are now considered “classics”.  I just enjoy reading them.

James Herriot began work as a rural vet in the Yorkshire Dales in the thirties. Here is an extract from his book “All creatures great and small”. His work involved driving to isolated farms in the country…

My first visit took me up one of the unfenced roads…  When I had ground my way to the top in bottom gear, I did what I so often did: I pulled the car onto the roadside turf and got out. That quotation about not having time to stand and stare had never applied to me. I seem to have spent a good part of my life… just standing and staring and I was at it again this morning. From up here you could see over the plain of York to the sprawl of the Hambleton Hills 40 miles to the east while behind me the ragged miles of moorland rolled away dipping and rising over the flat felltop. In my year at Darrowby I must have stood here scores of times and the views across the plain always looked different. Sometimes in the winter the low country was a dark trough amongst the snow-covered Pennines and the distant white gleam of the Hambleton hills and in April the rain squalls drifted in slow heavy veils across the great green and brown dappled expanse. There was a day too when I stood in brilliant sunshine looking down over miles of thick fog like a rippling layer of cotton-wool with dark tufts of trees and hill-tops pushing through here and there but today the endless patchwork of fields slumbered in the sun and the air, even on the hill was heavy with the scents of summer…

The quotation Herriot mentions actually comes from W.H. Davies who published the following poem in 1911. His words are just as valid today as then.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


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The ruin of Crackpot Hall near Keld, Swaledale

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