Today I want to share one of my favourite books - The Country Child by Alison Uttley. It is a fictional tale, but one very much based on the author's life growing up on a remote farm in Derbyshire, England at the turn of the 19th/20th Century. Susan Garland is seven years old in this story and we spend a year with her sharing her life on the farm and in the surrounding countryside. From Susan's perspective we experience: moonlight, the dark woods, seasonal celebrations, animal and birdlife, storms, local characters - like the oatcake man and the haymakers. A magical story, and even now,as I look for a passage to share with you, I lose myself in the enchanting descriptive prose, and already the chapter about Christmas Day has been re-read and wondered at.
Susan awoke in the dark on Christmas morning. A weight lay on her feet, and she moved her toes up and down. She sat up and rubbed her eyes. It was Christmas Day. She stretched out her hands and found the knobbly little stocking, which she brought into bed with her and clasped tightly in her arms as she fell asleep again.
She awoke later and lay holding her happiness, enjoying the moment. The light was dim, but the heavy mass of the chest of drawers stood out against the pale walls, all blue like the snow shadows outside. She drew her curtains and looked out at the starry sky. She listened for the bells of the sleigh, but no sound came through the stillness except the screech owl's call.