It’s amazing how places change over time. Even this tiny insignificant village in the middle of nowhere, in the tiniest and most insignificant of places, time still doesn’t overlook, and it changes along with it as the seconds turn to hours turn to days. Though the changes are subtle and slow. So slow that I think anyone actually living in this little village couldn’t possibly be aware of them as they take place. Rather one day they look up, and almost as if it all happened overnight, they finally become aware of just how different everything is.
It’s like growing old, you don’t realize it while it’s happening, but one day we all will wake up and look in the mirror and merely notice with sudden surprise- we are old. The surprise is unexpected, but the change is gradual.
In the same way as how this place changed slowly over time. With one little transformation after another, as the new becomes old and the old just fades away entirely.
For the locals here, this old village likely changed along with themselves, and the old is forgotten while the new becomes reality. I doubt they noticed the passing of time and the way it reshaped the place. But as for myself, as someone who hasn’t been here in years, the changes that time brought are blatant, obvious, and staggering. The changes symbolize the passing of time and emphasizes just how old I’ve really become. This place, being the village where I spent my childhood, has certain memories attached to it. Memories of certain places that looked a certain way and these memories of the place remain in my mind as what it is. This is what I believe it is supposed to be.
Although it isn’t what it is- at least not anymore- because the place, as all places do, over time changed.
I’m getting old.
I can barely imagine what the village must have been like a hundred or even two hundred years ago. No one knows how long the village has been here, no one remembers a person who could remember a person who could remember a time it wasn’t here. So I suspect it’s just always been here.
Though the village has changed over time, the trees have grown wider and taller, and the river grinds it’s way deeper and eats away at the banks, slithering like a snake through the valley, I doubt village life has changed much. The whole world here has always revolved around sheep, and I suspect it always will. I’d wager there’s at least a hundred sheep to every human.
The old shepherds’ bridge crossing the river Nidd I think is the oldest structure standing, though I don’t think anyone actually knows how old it really is. Certainly old enough for no one to remember, or to even have heard of a time, when it never existed.
I bet it must look strange to the bus driver and other passengers when I ring the stop bell at this village stop in the middle of a sheep field. Hardly anyone ever takes the bus to or from this obscure place in the middle of nowhere. This hole in the wall. And anyone that ever does is likely old- ancient rather- and is likely dressed from head to toe in traditional sheep herding attire. Wax coat, Yorkshire hat, rubber boots covered in mud. Yet, here I am, a young man jumping off the Number 26 bus into a sheep pasture in the middle of the Northern moor side. I notice the bus driver pause for a second before closing the door as if expecting this odd man to see he has made a huge mistake and was horribly lost, but instead I walked on down the road. Eventually, the bus driver, satisfied with my apparent, albeit odd, confidence of my surroundings, drags onward, and I notice quite a few curious faces looking out the window in my direction.
It’s a strange sort of Nostalgia, not so much Recognizing a place, but rather recognizing what is not the place. I recognize the differences, more than the similarities.
Nowadays there are new industries in the little village. Primarily the spice factor located just outside the town center. Not only has the factory created jobs for the community, but it also covers the entire town with an interestingly pleasant floral scent. I can smell it as I walk through the village center, and I cannot help but think to myself “what a wonderful place to live.”
Even the air is pleasant here.
Apart from that though there really isn’t too much else here. There certainly isn’t a reason anyone would come here, besides being one of the few who calls it home. There is an old private school down the road that posh parents from the city like to send their kids to. But that’s about the only reason anyone would ever come down this way apart from those that herd sheep here.
The village is small- tiny rather. So tiny that if it was any smaller it wouldn’t be a village at all but rather just a random place that some people happen to be. But it is indeed a self-reliant village. There is one of everything a place need to be considered a “place” worthy of a map, one tiny post office, one tiny schoolhouse, one tiny clinic, one tiny church, one tiny general store, and one tiny pub. Everything that a town needs in order to be considered a town there’s a tiny version of.
That is one of the things that makes it beautiful, in my mind at least, its tininess. It’s small, it’s quite, and it’s calm. Far different from all the hustle and bustle you find in the city
The only thing the village doesn’t really have is a community park. Though it really doesn’t need one, because the village itself is a park. What with all of the surrounding sheep pastures. And the farmers and herders don’t mind people exploring. Or rather, the odds of them seeing you, the odds of anyone seeing anyone out in the countryside, is too slim to bother thinking about. When you see another human, you become surprised, which is so different from the city. In the city, if you don’t see another person on the street- you start to worry. Out here, after spending enough time, if you see another human you get scared. There’s this strange impulse that grips hold of you to duck and dive into the bushes like a rabbit.
The older I get, and more caught up in my life I become, the longer the times between these pilgrimages become. I fear a day when I return to this place, years from now, and I remember none of it. All there will be to recognize is the differences, and nothing left to remember. The river’s path all new, the trees either dead or grown beyond recognition, the children who used to live here grown old, the old shepherd’s bridge finally rubble in the river.