Good morning to you, readers. This is Dr. Martin Moldenhauer, the Wisconsin Lutheran College English professor who is teaching eight students over here in the United Kingdom. Although you are just going to sleep on Friday evening, I am up early (4:40 am) on Saturday, unable to sleep any longer so I may as well write a blog entry.
Let me attempt to describe the region called The Lake District. It’s a magnificent collection of fells (small mountains) and meres (clear lakes), completely unfettered by commercialism, hotels, billboards, 4-lane highways, and shopping malls. In fact, no train tracks exist anywhere in this area. Most of the buildings are hundreds of years old, made out of local stone and shale quarries. As we hike on and around these fells, we are much more likely to pass sheep and goats than people.
Our Backpackers Inn hostel has clean beds and hot showers, coupled with a modest offering of breakfast cereal, toast, and tea. Looking out of my window in the early dawn light, I can clearly see Loughrigg Fell, the peak we climbed upon our first day arrival in Ambleside. By the way, darkness doesn’t last long here in the north of England, perhaps five hours from 11 pm to 4 am.
Yesterday our selected author was William Wordsworth, the originator of Romantic poetry. For those of you who are non-English majors, Romanticism does not mean love songs, but rather nature-loving poems about daffodils, waterfalls, clouds, flowers, and lakes. We hiked from one of his houses to another, contrasting his modest little Dove cottage home in Grasmere to as this more stately mansion in Rydal Mount. We also visited his grave, walked past his winter skating pond, and hiked along his favorite lake. It was easy to teach Romantic poetry when we are walking among the very places which inspired him. By the end of the day we had hiked over nine miles in warm and steady sunshine, and I heard not a single complaint. These students are so cooperative and agreeable. I bought them all ice cream cones at the end of our journey, and we sat on a little stone wall alongside a creek to enjoy them.
Today, we plan to take a six mile boat ride on Windermere (if I were to say Lake Windermere it would be redundant) to a ferry that crosses the lake. Then we’ll hike to Hilltop farm, the home of Beatrix Potter. She was the author of the Peter Rabbit tales, and the most generous benefactor of land in The Lake District. Upon her death she donated 14 farms to the British National Trust agency, thereby assuring that this area would remain free from commercialism, preserving its pristine beauty for the ages. One of my students will give a presentation about Miss Potter, and we will tour her home.
Although our muscles are sore, we are doing quite well, and I know that these students can appreciate Romantic poetry in a new way.
Tomorrow, after a little church service in our hostel living room, we will ride a bus, board a train, and travel to Edinburgh, Scotland.