It is a place of dreams. It is a place of rolling hills and slow moving water, a sunken pocket of land where deer roam the open spaces and osprey soar the empty skies. The sky here travels high and wide like a long breath. It changes with the season and slowly moves with time. It arches with shimmering rainbows at the times when the rain and the sun meet together in unison and meld, it swirls with thick cloud at other times when the sky gathers its furrows and the rain rumbles, and it presents a perfect pool blue sky when the sun swells and opens its heart and bakes the clear roads below.
The roads here sweep over the land and meander like the streams through the hills, with no rush, no hurry, only long breaths of forever. The air relaxes muscles and brings a calmness, as time slows and the sleepy mountains breathe deeply.
The mountains rise all around and the lakes dip down into the land, like great breaths in and out, the tops of the hills reaching up into the sky, and the water deep and low permeating the earth. It is called the lake district simply because this wide ooze of land by the sea is home to the largest number of lakes in England. It is heaps and troughs, inhalations and sighs, the land here is like the motion of travel, up and down, in and out, a swirl of green and blue.
The village of Grasmere lies unseen on entrance. The road strides forward and the hills yawn beyond, but it is only when the trees move aside slowly that the huddled cottages and inns emerge. Until you are upon it, this sleepy village stays hidden and shaded, keeping its tales to itself in quiet solitude and calm.
Dove Cottage is the whisper before the words of Grasmere. It is the first thing to be seen on approach to the village. Before the chocolate cottage that smells of cocoa and sugar, warmed syrup and chocolate liquor, before the view of the river that rumbles over rocks and glints in the early morning sun, before the garden centre where rain falls soft and gentle on the greenhouse roof, a pitter patter of warm showers. Here stands the cottage that was once an inn, huddled amid tall trees, vines sprawling over its white body, pink and fuchsia flowers opening their padded petals in summer and showering their sweet scent all around. The top windows of the house open like gates, creaking and heavy with time, and the mountain air enters the cottage with the aroma of the flowers, the soft rain, and the settled water of the lakes. Once called the Dove and Olive Bough, this building was an inn and spoke of a bird of peace that relaxed its full round body on the trees and gardens and blinked its small eyes and waited and waited. The inn told of juicy fleshy olives that grew in the warm months, the olive tree’s full boughs lulling and drooping with their heavy fruit. Here sits the house that would now become filled with slow lines of poetry and rambling journals of walking the land, of boots treading mountain trails and the breeze feathering thick woollen clothing. This cottage of the dove, in swooping greenery of Grasmere, is where the Wordsworth’s lived.
Samantha Priestley is the author of the Folded Word short-fiction chapbooks Dreamers (2014) and Orange Balloon (2016). She’s a novelist, playwright, and essayist who spins words into gold from her home in Sheffield, UK.
To read the first page of Orange Balloon, see a sample illustration, or purchase direct, please visit our shop: