One of the things I have noticed since I came to live up here twenty-five years ago, is that the local people do not, on the whole, take an interest in world news. What happens in our local area - our village, our own little town, our Dale and maybe our nearest market town is of great importance. Who has died, married, given birth, been up in court for some offence or other, asked for Planning Permission for something - all these things are of importance, are read avidly in the local press, are discussed at the local Auction Mart, at parties and at meetings whilst out walking the dogs. I was reminded of this this morning when the farmer returned from his early morning walk with the dogs and searched me out to tell me that there were traffic lights to be set up at the top of a local hill. No way I am going up there today as I am going out for the day (more of that later) but he had seen our sub-contract hedge-cutting man who is out early doing our hedges while the ground is hard and frosty. Mike had told him about the traffic lights.
I am a reader of the Times. I literally read it from cover to cover each day (excluding the football and sports pages) and do like to know what is going on in the world. If I try to discuss any of this with the farmer he will make a comment or two but then his eyes begin to glaze over.
I wonder - is this a bad attitude? I am often struck by how little we can do about some of the major issues in the world. I need to read about the so called Arab Spring in the Middle East. I am appalled at the cruelty, the loss of life, the terror it is all inflicting. But can I do anything at all about it? No. So - is it important to read about it or would I be better to leave that and concentrate on local issues in our local paper - like whether or not our library stays open?
The farmer has a peace of mind, a serene attitude to life, a gentle humour and an unflappability which I envy greatly and take great comfort from. I have noticed it amongst so many of our farming friends up here. I put it down to living close to the land, to experiencing life and death as an integral part of things in their dealings with animals, to taking the ups and downs of life as a matter of course as farming suffers highs and lows.
Might I be sensible to ignore the foreign pages in the Times, to do the crossword, the Sudoku, the Killer and the various other mind games which I tackle over breakfast every morning and let the Arab Spring, the Falklands fuss, the grounding and sinking of the liner off the coast of Italy and all the other issues, take care of themselves. It's not as though I intend to man the barricades in Cairo is it?
Today my friend W and I are off to Kirby Lonsdale to meet friends P and D for lunch in a local Bistro. The journey, through Wensleydale and then through Ribblesdale, with the viaduct on my header to one side of the road and Ingleborough (one of the three peaks) on the other, promises to be a delight today as the fells are certain to be covered in snow and the sun is already shining in a clear blue sky. So hopefully I shall have photographs to show you tomorrow. Heavy snow is forecast for Saturday and Sunday. So far we have avoided it, but I shall stock up on food today in case we do get snowed in. Have a nice day.