Studied in the UK, Spring 2012
During a semester abroad in the United Kingdom, an older Englishman took a few of the international students on a road trip. We stopped at Marvern Hills to “stretch our legs,” by which he meant hike largest rise in the area. I huffed and puffed through the climb, but Tony walked as casually as an American might go to their car. Occasionally Tony pointed out sights or quoted facts about the place. He seemed to have an answer to even my most obscure questions. This awareness of the land, of the stories it held, and reverence Tony showed for nature and history struck me as a part of British culture that Americans don’t always share.
As I watched him surveying the landscape below us, it occurred to me that he was one of many people who had visited these heights and looked out. Victorians would vacation here. Prehistoric forts were built here. Tony’s connection with the land, with his heritage, went back and back and back. In some ways, he’s the embodiment of all that history. He’s the Englishman with his pants tucked into his boots, his eyes sparkling with a humor so dry he doesn’t have to smile, standing still and quiet and enjoying the view of his country. He’s doing what so many of his kinsmen have done before him: He’s walking Malvern Hills.