About the Author

Marie is an instructor of English at Sacred Heart University and recently completed her MFA in Creative Writing at Fairfield University. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children and her faithful English Springer Spaniel, "the artful" Dodger.
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Spread the Word

Daffoldil Days

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills

When all at once I saw a crowd

A host of golden daffodils. 

-          William Wordsworth


  Wordsworth's Table

   Original oil, 2009

I arrive in a bit of a gale – heavy rains and strong winds welcome me to a place I had imagined so many times while reading the poetry of Wordsworth and my other favorite Lake District poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  After a rush to find 50 pence – to keep the lights on – I settle in to the Garden Cottage, Hunting Stile, Grasmere, as the tourist brochure describes it – quite a name for what is really quite a modest little cottage. Many vacation (the English say “holiday”) rentals have metered electricity and the knowledgeable will arrive at their desired destination with plenty of coins in hand if they have any hope of keeping warm and reading by anything other than candle light! I have arrived in the heart of English Romantic poetry, the area of lakes which inspired some of my favorite poets.

The Hunting Stile, as it were, is a grand 18th century country estate situated on the western side of the village Grasmere with sweeping views of the famous Lake Grasmere which features prominently in the poetry of the area’s native son. In fact, this magnificent country house has Wordsworth pedigree, having once been the home of the poet’s grandson. Now, it is available for holiday rentals. The Garden cottage is made up of a small set of rooms located off the inner courtyard of the grander main house. Clearly, this is where the resident gardener once lived in days when the house truly was someone’s country house and where I now settle in to immerse myself in the landscape that inspired such beautiful pastoral imagery. In the main house, there are other visitors who have paid quite a bit more than I could afford for the sweeping views they will enjoy of the Lake Grasmere from their windows. Content in my humble Garden Cottage abode, I look forward to exploring the surrounding lakes and mountains in the few blissful days I have here. For now, my guidebook and my well-worn collection of Wordsworth are the perfect accompaniment to a warm cup of tea as the storm continues to rage outside.

In the morning, I take my tea to a shared garden in front of my cottage from which there are magnificent views across Lake Grasmere and to the mountains beyond. The passing storm has left a bright, dry morning for my exploring. The air has a freshness which I have not experienced in even the grandest of London’s expansive parks. A little mouse makes his appearance as if to wish me well on my journey and scurries back under a moss covered rock near my door.  I name him Cecil, as he reminds me of a little country mouse out of a Beatrix Potter story. I’ve packed the requisite British wax jacket (a much improved take on the bright yellow rubber slicker of my American childhood) – nothing on earth more practical for a country where the morning sun can turn quickly to an afternoon shower – and, of course, my high green “wellies” (a much improved take on the plastic rainboots of  my childhood as well). Wellington boots will take me up mountains and across streams, through mud and into the local pub. While to the uneducated American eye they can appear quite ugly, they are perfectly acceptable in most any situation the English country young woman might find herself in and perfectly suited to the vagaries of the English weather. Short of a sheep dog, they are the most reliable of companions in these parts.

Just out from the back garden of my cottage there is a well marked path leading up into the hills about the Lake.  The scenery is at once pastoral and majestic. The Cumbrian Mountains are reddish in parts, giving the scenery a kind of mystical, unreal beauty that strikes me as unique to this particular place on earth. The mountain streams seem to carve into the sides of the red slopes and to provide a soothing backdrop against the deep silence; I bend over one and scoop up a deliciously pure handful of rushing water to sustain me as I continue my walk. As I go along, not unexpectedly a brief shower passes through and, afterwards, a magnificent rainbow appears – one which frames the mountains instead of the sky. It is like nothing I had ever seen before, but then this landscape is like nothing I have ever seen before. It is a wide landscape, richly textured and expansive, from which to draw out an imagination...(continued)