Saturday, June 7, 2008

What I'll Miss About York

Well, today's the day: our final day to drink in our adopted home for these past months. Here are some of the things I'm going to miss about York:
  • The Jakemans! Alastair, Faith, Ellie, Beth, and Tom have been such wonderful friends to us, a wonderful gift from a generous Saviour. Thanks be to God that we connected with them just a few days after landing in York, and that their proximity made it so easy to foster a friendship. They have been our hosts and local experts, our taxi almost every Sunday (and more!), our veritable dictionaries for all things British (as we would constantly be asking them, "What do you call this? Why do you do it that way? Where is such and such?..."). They have been so gracious us to welcome us into their lives and home over the past 5 months. (Indeed, all of the saints at York Evangelical Church have modeled the hospitality and charity that should be the central mark of the body of Christ.) It is going to be very, very hard to say goodbye. We hope it will only be "farewell," and that the Jakemans might be able to make a trek to Grand Rapids someday. (We'll have to start a "Bring the Jakemans to Our House" Fund!)
  • The Bells of York Minster: The Minster--the cathedral of York--literally towers over the entire city, and is visible from miles outside of town. But I have treasured another way that it makes its presence felt: through the bells. The chimes of the tower's bells seem to dance over the city in the evening and on quiet Sunday mornings, singing a song that is ancient.
  • Wood pidgeons and bird songs: There are a number of different birds here in York, including a large wood pidgeon that we don't have at home, which I found quite beautiful (in a feral sort of way, I guess). And our garden is also frequented by a kind of black bird (I think it's just called a "black bird"!) which, visually, is completely unremarkable. But I have often found myself captivated by its song. Since the spring, when the weather has been nice, I've moved a little table out into the back of the house and worked in the garden. But I would often myself pleasantly distracted by a black bird on top of the hosue who seemed to be a jazz musician, improvising songs and notes that I'd never heard before. It was like it could sing both Vivaldi and Coltrane, the mournful tones of heart-broken country & western or the light diddies of show tunes.
  • Mr. Chippy: Sometimes (well, pretty often to be honest!), Deanna and I would take a lunch break and walk to the town centre, making a stop at Mr. Chippy, our favorite chip shop near the heart of town. We'd be chips "open" (that is, in a tray to take away, ready to eat), and Dee would often have them smothered in gravy (and on days that she was perhaps lonely, she'd add cheese for comfort). We'd then sit together on a bench just outside a nearby church and watch the bustle of York go by. I'll miss the chips, but maybe I'll miss the time together in this setting even more.
  • The Little Shambles Tea Room: When we lived in England in 2004, we were zealous converts to "cream tea"--tea with scones, clotted cream, and jam. Here in York I discovered the Little Shambles Tea Room, on the Shambles, the most ancient street in York. A little hole in the wall, the shop has two floors. Sometimes I would take my work, climb to the second floor, and enjoy my cream tea while looking out the window that peered over the market.
  • The Indepent and the Roman Bath pubs: English pubs are not quite the same as American "bars." They have a sort of neighborhood, community feel about them that can't quite be translated. Each pub seems to represent its own little community, a slice of the city. Deanna and I would sometimes sneak out for a pint at the Independent, just around the corner from our house. Our we would walk downtown to the Roman Bath pub right in the heart of the city. I'm going to miss John Smith's Smooth, a cheap local brew from here in Yorkshire.
  • The medieval echoes: There is an ambience to York that is hard to describe, and yet very tangible. It oozes history, and the walls and Minster continue to give it a medieval feel that speaks to my romantic soul.
  • A pedestrian life: We've been shrinking our carbon footprint while we've been here since we've had no car. The result is that we walk everywhere, and York is such a pedestrian- friendly place. Pretty much anything that really matters is within walking distance. It is such a wonderful way to inhabit space. I hope we'll find ways to translate this back to our neighborhood in Grand Rapids even more than we used to (since the "mixed use" environment of East Hills certainly makes this possible).
York has gotten into our bones in all sorts of ways I'm sure we're not even aware of. I expect it will come back over us in waves when we get home: when the kids want to play with the Jakemans, and then realize they're an ocean away; when I'm craving a pint of John Smith's and can't find it anywhere; when we're sick of 28th Street and want to just stroll down the "snickelway" of the Shambles; when I happen to hear a church bell tolling through the din of SUVs and freeway traffic. I hope memories are enough.

1 comment:

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