Friday, August 15, 2008

“I have been a mental traveler”
Isak Dinesen

One of my wishes as a little girl was to sleep in a canopied bed, a wish that was granted after my husband and I built onto our magical cottage two years after we married. He found our bed, a dark wood jewel of a creation with exquisite wooden spider-web fretwork all around and a paneled back just made for leaning against with a fine book on a dark and stormy night. It is draped in a faded floral linen lined with mossy green and it makes me feel like a fairy princess each night when I crawl inside its feathery arms. However, when I do go to bed at night, I don’t always stay put. Sometimes my mind takes me to other favorite bedrooms in which I have been fortunate to sleep, and dream, while on my travels.

If it’s summertime, I may drift off to my favorite beach bedroom, with its wide wooden floors and the lace curtains that billow out from the three tall, open windows, where the sound of the sea is my lullaby. When the moon is full I can lie in this room and drift away to sleep while gazing at a moonlit golden pathway leading out to sea, and beyond. Or perhaps I will choose that fairy tale tower room in the northwest of England, high up in the old manor house, with the casement window that opens out onto the green hills, dotted with sheep, that roll down, down to the misty blue lake. Oh, I do love that room. I have slept there during a howling gale when rain lashed the window like artillery, and then again on crystal clear nights when I could open that old window and look up to see the entire Milky Way shimmering back at me like diamonds in the sky.

That’s the fascinating and valuable thing about travel. The memories are always in your head to call up whenever you choose. Which is, I think, what William Wordsworth, with whom I share a birthday, was thinking about when he wrote of “the bliss of solitude”. Travel gifts me with lovely memories of lovely places and later when I am home once more, I have only to close my eyes and return anywhere my heart desires. And, of course, a wonderful thing about this sort of bedtime mental travel? Edward can sleep at the foot of any bed I choose!