Spots of Time

Rushbearing Festival

The annual parade for the Rushbearing festival at Grasmere, an ancient tradition where the villagers gather the rushes from around the lake or river, make ornaments out of them, and carry them in a procession to St. Oswald’s chapel.

Last summer, while living in the green and beautiful valley of Grasmere, I felt like I had stepped into the past. I first arrived to this small village in northern England for a summer internship and saw more nature untouched by man or time than I thought possible. In addition to its vibrant color and overabundance of life, everything about Grasmere and the entire Lake District exuded a sense of timelessness that the Romantic poet William Wordsworth tried to capture in his poems. Dove Cottage, the little house he lived in for a time, was still standing, allowing visitors to come and explore life in early eighteenth-century England. Even the church he’s buried at, St. Oswald’s, still holds regular Sunday services. All the while, the forests, streams, trees, ferns, and fells surrounding the little village have an ancient feel to them that seemed entirely undisturbed. The past and the present seemed intertwined: I could have just as easily been visiting that spot more than two hundred years ago and would have seen Wordsworth walking by, muttering his poetry under his breath.

Looking back now, I’m surprised I even made the trip, living and working where Wordsworth wrote his immortal verses. I always felt like I was in a perpetual dream state, suspended in time and space. The famous lines from “Ode to the Intimations of Immortality” kept coming to mind:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,

The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem

Apparelled in celestial light,

The glory and the freshness of a dream.

When I came home and stepped off the plane into the desert sun, I wondered if I had even left at all. It was as though I had only dreamt the trip in a prolonged sleep.

After my journey to and from England I realized that traveling doesn’t just involve space or distance but also time—whether it is taking the time to go and experience something new or to engage yourself with a place, a people, an artifact, or any other facet of another era. Exploring nature can become a journey in time by helping the traveler realize nature’s endlessness. At the same time, places like museums or ancient ruins can educate visitors about the past and the possibilities of the future. In any case, traveling or experiencing something new and foreign can help people discover aspects of history or their time on earth that they had never considered before.

In this latest issue of Stowaway, we hope to give you a sense of that love that only comes through traveling and experiencing the past, such as seeing remnants of the ancient Middle East near the the Sea of Galilee (20), visiting dark sky reservations to see the light of old stars finally reaching Earth (28), or experiencing traditional German Christmas markets (34). For those currently unable to go abroad, we have some tips and suggestions for bringing other cultures to your home, from understanding Japanese street fashion (52) to making foreign pizzas (54).

Thanks to all the hard work from everyone on the Stowaway staff. Working on this issue has helped us all further understand what it truly means to travel. Travel makes you lose your sense of time, causing you to look back and ask, “Did I really do that? Did that really happen?”

I feel the same way having published this the magazine you now hold in your hands.

—Shane Peterson
Managing Editor

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