Today was an absolutely beautiful day here in the West Country, as the region where I live is known. I huffed my way up the hill to the final day of our conference, and only when I was most of the way there realized I was a half-hour early.
No matter: this gave me time to visit my favorite location on campus, the original estate house and grounds donated to the University in 1922. In addition to a large arboretum of rare trees, there is a small formal garden which is replanted seasonally and which currently houses tulips and primroses, a pond with ducks and fish, and the site of a former greenhouse which is now a slightly overgrown fragrant garden centered around a rock formation. Closer to the house are rosebeds not yet in bloom, and from there is a lovely view across the Exeter valley to the truly lovely pastoral farmland on the other side, a collection of green fields bordered by hedgerows.
I wended my way through these charming surroundings while Sunday morning churchbells from the cathedral began to peal in the distance. As I stood there in slanting beams of morning light surrounded entirely by everything good and beautiful that I love about England, I began to feel tears welling up.
I sat in the garden and cried at the dreadful and inevitable prospect of leaving again. I know I’ve just arrived, but equally I know that soon, more quickly than I can anticipate, I will be forced to make a decision about where I want to go when I’m finished here.
The types of work that I’m qualified for and that appeal to me are currently all back in America, or at least I haven’t yet seen anything similar advertised in Britain. Though I do love my own country, the quality of life here fits me like a glove and I’ve no desire to move back home.
Even if I do remain in England I won’t be able to stay in Exeter forever, and actually I wouldn’t want to – it’s a fairly compact city and I feel I’ve explored it to the best of my abilities at this point. But I suspect I wouldn’t have grown nearly as attached to this country without experiencing the great charm this city has to offer, and I am aware that my days of wandering country estate gardens must come to an end sooner or later.
Soon enough the sound of ringing cathedral bells again wafted through the trees. I realized I had better make my way up to the Institute to deal with more pressing concerns, so I dried my eyes and left my fears for the future by the rosebeds, waiting for summer blooms to cover them.