On Comfort Reading, James Herriot, and Love on the Rocks

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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/03/2020 - 10:25pm in

Once a upon a time, my wife was having a very crappy day. As it happens the Headcorn railway station in Kent, where she was waiting to catch a train, has a bookcase for books discarded by the public that they use as a charity fundraiser. Her eye fell on the James Herriot paperback pictured below.

Once, we stayed in a delightful bed and breakfast in North Yorkshire, in order to hike in the area. It was a memorable trip because it was my first experience with hiking in England; while it was already late March, the Dales and Moors were covered with snow and had a mesmerizing beauty in their barrenness. When we drove into the village, she pointed to a house and said 'that's James Herriot's house!' Only after she started filling me in, once we were snugly settled in the BnB (which had an astounding breakfast pudding with rhubarb compote), I had vague sense of remembering a TV series, popular forty years ago, which, when it aired in Holland, was called, conveniently, James Herriot.  She had devoured the books as an adolescent. 

When she was telling me the story about the encounter with the James Herriot paperback, I was reminded, once again, that there is, analogous to comfort food, a kind of comfort book. Some books we can safely return to in times of pain. And, oddly enough, despite the fact we know the plot and characters, the sense of escape and adventure may be no less thrilling. In fact, in virtue of our familiarity with these, there is a kind of safety we also feel with old friends.   

While I was pretending to be listening and reflecting on the nature of comfort books, my wife showed me a little rock pictured below. I inferred from the fragment of the last sentence of hers I processed, she found the rock under the James Herriot in the the case. I was now full attention. She said, 'and so I was given a heart.'  (See the two pictures below.)

It turns out there is a facebook group Love on the rocks uk (Painting Rocks ~ Making Smiles). It's mission is this: "Paint a rock, write Facebook love on the rocks uk on the back, take a picture and let us know where your hiding it and then make a stranger smile when they find it! It's free it's easy it's fun! Spread the love." As I write this, it has 96,962 members. While looking for a photo of the rock my wife found, I learned that many of the rock-paintings are delightful, even gorgeous

Anyway, the sappy moral of today's digression is that sometimes the kindness of invisible strangers really is heartwarming. Thank you.