Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Those Bright + Happy Fields

Back in 2013 when we were planning our 9th anniversary trip I was searching Pinterest for things to see in Normandy.  I kept coming across these amazing pictures of bright yellow fields right in the middle of a patch of green.  I had never seen anything like them in Alabama and thought they were only a wonderful French phenomenon until my friend Laura told me they were a normal sight in North Yorkshire as well.  Who knew?

I've picked up a few more tidbits about these beautiful fields along the way.  Last year I learned these happy fields had the bad fortune of being called rapeseed and that they were used to make rapeseed oil.  I also learned that it is grown in the U.S., just not where I lived, and rapeseed oil = Canola oil.

I've also learned that they are indeed everywhere in North Yorkshire!  It makes driving in the month of May a pleasure.  I took a wrong exit at a roundabout a couple of weeks ago and ended up driving on a winding country road between two huge fields of yellow.  It almost made getting lost worth it. Or at least, I felt less grumpy about getting lost.

On a Sunday afternoon drive with an English friend last week we wondered aloud why we call it canola instead of rape in the States (besides the obvious reason that the name has horrible connotations).   A quick Google search gave us this from Wikipedia:

The name "canola" was chosen by the board of the Rapeseed Association 
of Canada in the 1970s. The "Can" part stands for Canada and "ola" refers to oil.

And there you have it.  You can learn anything with the help of Google and Wikipedia.

I was afraid I'd miss my chance to photograph the loveliness so James and I went out for a quick visit one afternoon for the above pictures.  Below are the fields I drive by every time I pick the kids up from school, and I was glad for a chance to stop with the family two weeks ago.  It happened to be another perfect afternoon.  Those colors!

I laughed when this butterfly happened to fly by as I was taking this shot.  North Yorkshire is such a frolicking happy place.

Perhaps you'll enjoy cooking with Canola oil a bit more now, and if you have any more interesting tidbits about rapeseed I'd love to hear!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

"Ripon has great rocks." - James P.

We had an unexpected small adventure yesterday afternoon, and it all began with a trip to McDonalds. They were offering toys from the new Angry Birds movie, so we took our little Angry Birds' loving boy for a Happy Meal.  One meander through the library (one of my favorite past-times!) and three 99 pence foam swords later, KJ was teaching the kids how to skip rocks in the river and staging sword fights on the footbridge.  And I was photographing it on an unexpectedly beautiful day, so we were all in our happy places.

It was one of those happy afternoons that comes by pure grace when you aren't expecting it, when--in my case--you've been awakened unwillingly by the sun at 5:20 a.m. two days in a row, and you definitely didn't go to bed early enough for that to be okay, and you're wondering how you're going to interact with your family the rest of the day without being too irritable.  In those quiet moments of whispered prayers, grace always feels like such a surprise.

In the early hours of the morning I'd read an article about children and imagination that left me wanting my kids to have more play, more of the simple pleasures of childhood, and our walk by the river felt like a lot of that good stuff. 

I didn't immediately think of The Wind in the Willows when we walked by The Water Rat, but when I got up close to the sign it made me so happy.  There were Toad and Mole and Ratty.  There's something so wonderful about that book, even amongst its stranger passages.  I think it's what C.S. Lewis said about it:
"The happiness which it presents to us is in fact full
 of the simplest and most attainable things—food, sleep, 
exercise, friendship, the face of nature, even (in a sense) religion.”

I hope your week is full of all those good things.