During the coronavirus lockdown, my wife and I have had time to reminisce about our past vacations. We have traveled to places of stunning beauty and have collected enduring memories.
We learned early on to let go of expectations. After some necessary planning for our trips, we let serendipity take charge once we are there. We usually, but not always, arrange for lodging in advance; but we allow our intuition and sense of direction to choose restaurants, sights, and activities. Being spontaneous and willing to wander off the main road, we always come away from a trip with at least one experience that amazes and makes a lasting impression.
As an example, several years ago we decided to tour the bucolic English countryside of the Cotswolds. Our rental car was laden with heavy camera equipment as we drove down a winding road on a rainy morning. When the rain turned to an annoying drizzle, and the windshield wipers slowed their pulsations, I was on the lookout for suitable landscape and architectural subjects to photograph.
Going around a curve, I spotted a thatch-covered shed surrounded by lush vegetation with trees just coming into bloom and spring flowers poking out of the ground. I parked the car off the road and looked around for the nearest house to ask the owner permission to photograph the shed. The only house in view was on the other side of the road. Calling it a house is an understatement. It was an immense manor-house made entirely of large stone blocks.
I rapped the door knocker, and a middle-aged woman greeted my knock. Despite the early hour, she held a cigarette in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other. I introduced myself, and she said, “my name is Brigid, rhymes with frigid” (to distinguish her name from Bridget, I suppose). I asked for permission to photograph the shed, and she approved, but before my wife and I
could walk back to the car, she asked if we like to photograph wildlife. We didn’t, but curious, I said it depends on the circumstances and what did she have in mind. She said she had some animals in her backyard and asked if we were interested in seeing them.
Brigid escorted us into an immense entry hall. As we walked toward the back of the house, there was a soft rumbling sound. Brigid explained that there is a culvert running under the “great hall” (living area of the house) through which a stream flowed. We walked into the farmhouse-like kitchen containing a large stone fireplace, a pantry, and a “buttery” (storage for wine and liquor). Brigid poured more wine into her glass and led us out the back door to her yard.
Off to the side was a large pond containing approximately 100 ducks of different varieties and sizes, creating a maelstrom of colors and sounds. Brigid explained that she acquires a male and female of different species and clips their wings so they can’t fly. As a business enterprise, she sells the offspring to interested buyers.
Brings a whole new meaning to duck dynasty.
While my wife and Brigid spent the next two hours in the kitchen having tea, I spent those two hours photographing the inside and outside of the house, and, of course, the duck pond.
Perhaps meandering is a better description of what we do than traveling.
– Joe from Arizona, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of his life.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (LLC)