These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
In these lines, I find Wordsworth describing the rural England I imagined in my youth when I was growing up on a dairy farm in southwestern Ontario: wild hedge rows, green pastures, cottages with smoke rising from their chimneys.
When I was young, like maybe twelve or thirteen, I would try to imagine what England looked like. More specifically, the rural England of Jane Eyre and Wurthering Heights -- two books that I read during a summer library club. Two books I had no real understanding of what was going on and was shocked by their content when I reread them in university. But there was something about the description of the landscape in the books that seemed so distant to my own existence. I lived on a modern dairy farm and would often walk the property and sometimes, with my mind's eye, I would take the slight slope of the land and imagine it was a vast pasture somewhere in England. England seemed much more romantic.
I do remember dreaming that Queen of England would come to visit our farm. I used this as motivation when washing down the parlor after milking. A parlor after milking is covered in cow excrement. Completely covered. I, in my rubber boots and coveralls, would perfect the technique of taking a high powered hose and washing down the cow crap as effectively and efficiently as possible. I took great pride in my technique. The secret? I used to imagine that I was spraying a path through the cow crap for the Queen so that should could inspect our facilities and that my spraying had to meet the "white glove" expectations that a Queen would require. I became very good at washing the parlor.
I was twenty when I first went to England and compared the real landscape with my imaginings of a preteen. I had been studying English Literature in the Netherlands on third year exchange. I had been in Europe just shy of a month when Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. Throughout the year, during breaks and long weekends, I would jaunt all over Europe -- visiting the People's Princess memorial in Paris and eventually places throughout the United Kingdom. It was in the month before I returned home that I got to see many of the places I had read about: the moors of Yorkshire, the Lake District, parts of Wales, Brighton and of course, London.