On this Earth Day 2021, I’m thinking of people who are observers and listeners. They help us see and hear the world around us and open our minds to the treasures and sorrows of the earth.
Ronald Blythe is one of those people. He is most famous for Akenfield, a fictionalized account of the life of one English village in Suffolk from 1880 to 1966. The way I began to read him was in two of his collections of his columns for the Church Times, “Word from Wormingford.” The first collection has that title, the second is called Out of the Valley. Blythe is a Lay Reader in the Church of England. His columns, and hence these collections, are from his observations as he makes his way from one village church to another all around Wormingford in Essex, in the valley of the river Stour. Blythe is a wonderful writer, and the reader is drawn into his world through his gentle and compelling stories. In an interview with The Guardian he said, “What I basically am is a listener and a watcher.”
Blythe has written many things, but I invite you to enter into his Wormingford world with these two lovely books. Since they are a collection of newspaper columns, they are lovely to pick up and read just a bit from time to time. They offer great reflections for Earth Day or any day.