We had our changeover day yesterday, which meant packing up in the morning and then wandering around the town until our next cottage was ready. This happens every week, and I see other visitors wandering similarly around. Mostly they are women who, like me, have found it impossible to stay in St Ives for just one week. So we book ourselves into multiple living spaces, stash our bags somewhere in between, and take our changeover day with the patience it deserves.
Today is our last Sunday in the town of St Ives, and we were staying near enough to the church to hear it ringing us in. I walked along thinking about who might, or might not, be there this time, and what sermon the new Vicar (if he was there) might be thinking about that very minute. Arriving, we saw that everybody but the organist was back from their collective holidays. Our replacement organist was seated at the massive instrument, playing with gusto, pulling at his sound-changing knobs, and making a great and lovely noise again with the foot pedals. It was a terrific way to begin a service!
At the end, the parishioners listened to the postlude (spectacular), applauded it, and then made their way over to where the coffee and biscuits awaited us. By 'biscuits', I really mean (for you Americans) cookies. If it really were biscuits, as we know biscuits, and especially if they were warmed up biscuits, the church would have to provide butter, and knives, and possibly even jam. But they did not mean 'biscuits', so we stood, eating our cookies, and having our tea. A gentleman approached.
"And, you are from America?"
"Yes," said my husband. "California..."
"Ah, lovely," said the man, "simply lovely."
We recognized him because he is one of the people who get to carry the incense ball, swinging it from side to side, and then, in his case, swinging it round a FULL CIRCLE. This is very impressive. But I did not mention it to him because this wasn't that kind of conversation.
And then, he mentioned that he is the church Warden.
The church WARDEN!? We knew all about church Wardens because of Anthony Trollope's book, "The Warden", which tells a story about a Cathedral city and its very interesting ups and downs. It is fantastic. A must read.
"Have you ever read "The Warden", by Anthony Trollope?" I asked. "There is a movie, too. The Barchester Chronicles..."
"Ah, no...haven't heard of it," he gently replied. We could hardly believe that he truly had not heard of our sweet Warden, who "had frequent bouts of Christianity", and who played the cello exquisitely; whenever he felt agitated about his son-in-law the Archdeacon, he (the Warden) would start moving his hands and arms as if a real cello were in them. It's funny, and very sweet.
But it was time to go, so we placed our teacups and saucers onto the table, said our goodbyes, and left. Walking along the harbor, we felt a sudden and brisk nip in the air. It was, in fact, becoming windy, and I could sense that the mildness of our sojourn here was escaping our grasp. No, don't go! Not yet. We have still to walk our way to St Michael's Mount; to watch our Mousehole Men rehearsing; to visit and hug dearest Jean, all the way up the hill.
And then? - then, it will be California, and the warmth, and the hugs, and the love. Already, my hands and arms are beginning to move as if a real baby were in them.
Ah, lovely...simply lovely.
See you along the way!