Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stonehenge Then and Now

This photo of Stonehenge was taken two weeks ago on a damp October afternoon. I had been saddened—though not surprised—when I learned several years ago that the site had been fenced in so the public could no longer wander around the stones. Somehow I imagined a barbed wire fence or some other intrusive barrier, but there is in fact no more than a low lying rope and the monoliths rise from a healthy looking expanse of grass. The visitor is directed around the site in a wide arc which affords several impressive views of the stones. There are plans afoot to reroute the road that runs close to Stonehenge and locate the new visitors’ center two miles away, bringing visitors to the site on shuttle buses. Solitude and isolation seem the perfect backdrop for this phenomenon.

How different from our last visit to Stonehenge in 1971. Here I am standing nonchalantly among the stones. That’s Al, who had just turned four, clinging to my legs and that bundle in my arms is the four-month-old Andrew. Somewhere (climbing on ten thousand years of history?) are the one-year-old Elizabeth and the two-year-old Kate.

By one of those strange coincidences I was taking care of Kate’s children today and caught sight of Patrick’s library book, a children’s biography of C.S.Lewis. In it there is a photo of the author sitting on atop one of the smaller stones at Stonehenge. I guess that was the thing to do!

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