Monday, August 20, 2007

The New Forest

I used to live with a girl who nicknamed me "City". As in (and this is verbatim), "Oh you're so painfully city. Do you have anything in your wardrobe that isn't black or from Saks and oh please can I have a double espresso?" I enjoyed the teasing because this girl was a sweetheart and also because it's fairly accurate. Just the other day I was commenting to someone how foreign it would feel to not be able to walk out my front door, stick out my hand, and have a cab stop. Basically, drop me in the middle of Manhattan and I'm in my element. Drop me in the middle of a suburb and I start to get nervous. Drop me in the middle of the countryside surrounded by cows and sheep and I don't have a clue.

That's why the past couple of days have been interesting. I've been meandering around the New Forest, where my father grew up. As a kid, this part of the world both fascinated and terrified me. I loved the idea of wild ponies wandering around but not having a clue, stood directly behind one when I was about ten years old. The bruising from the kick lasted for weeks. I still love the wild ponies, especially now as I know to stay the hell away from them, and this little fellow was actually the pet sheep at the manor house where I stayed.

One other note: I came across this small, handmade memorial in the middle of the New Forest, honouring the servicemen of the 3rd Canadian R.C.A.S.C. On this spot, this battalion held services from April 14, 1944 until D-Day when they went off to land on the beaches. The New Forest was an ideal location to prepare for the invasion - lots of ground cover and easy access to the English Channel. The little memorial was very moving and while I always think that the Canadian government should do more to honour our war dead and veterans, the handmade touch to this little spot seemed just perfect.

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