When I was walking on The Ridgeway, I met three men who were hiking in my direction. One of them started walking with me, and his two buddies walked on ahead. At one place that had an especially magnificent view, I stopped to take it all in. The fields were various shades of green interspersed with yellow canola. All the fields were bordered by dark green hedgerows. In the distance were purple hills. I sighed. I said, “England is so incredibly beautiful!” My companion said, “That’s not England.” I looked at him askance. I asked what he meant. He said, “That’s not ENGLAND: all those YELLOW FIELDS!!! That’s NOT ENGLAND!!!”
Maybe he was influenced by the name as well as the color. In England canola is called “rape,” not a nice word in any vocabulary. Evidently, it was a crop new to England. I felt a pang. Canola didn’t know it wasn’t wanted. It just went ahead and bloomed anyway.
That night I stayed at an inn. As I was sitting in the lobby after my dinner, reading a magazine, the two other hikers that I had met on The Ridgeway walked in. I smiled at them and said “HELLO.” They immediately turned away, embarrassed, and went into the restaurant where I observed them meeting and having dinner with two women who were probably their wives. They had not recognized me without hat and dark glasses. (Or maybe they had. That is an even worse thought.) Here is where I made a typical Jean Anderson blunder. Instead of saying, “Where is your friend?” as I have so often wished I had, I just put my nose back in my magazine and hunkered down in my chair. WHY? WHY did I do that?