Oct 2 2016
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning: A Memoir – Laurie Lee
When I was a young man I was not a very adventurous person. I was a homebody not comfortable with long distance travel on my own. I suspect this was a result of my upbringing, with parents who allowed me to sleep over at a friend’s house only once in my life, and who would not allow me, even at the age of eighteen, to go to my girlfriend’s college homecoming event across the state. I don’t know why not, but I presumed it was because of what we might do when we were off on our own (like we hadn’t already done pretty much whatever we wanted by that time). To tell the truth, I was a little relieved when they wouldn’t let me go. The idea of driving to her college across the state, on my own, figuring out where I was going to stay, and the novelty of the situation all made me nervous.
Oh, how I wish now that I had been a braver soul then. Today I am able and happy to travel to unknown places on my own, but I will never be able to experience places and people in the same way I would have in my youth. Indeed, age even places greater limits on the places I am able to go. I’m never going to hike the wilderness.
So it is with great admiration that I read the stories of people who left home at a young age to wander around another part of the world, let alone across the state. Such is the story of Laurie Lee when he left his rural English childhood home to first go to London and then to wander across Spain.
I suppose that one must be young to travel as he did, busking his way from city to village without any other means of financial support. When you are young, you are more flexible and more willing to deal with the exigencies such travel entails. Go hungry for a few days, eat food that is unknown to you, go without bathing for a few weeks, hike through wind, snow and rain . . . much more likely to roll with those punches when you are young than when you are older and have grown accustomed to the comforts of life.
Anyways, back to the book. This book is the second in the trilogy comprised of this book, Cider with Rosie and A Moment of War. I’ve already written about Cider with Rosie and A Moment of War will follow, as I am going to read it as soon as the book arrives. As I Walked Out covers a relatively short period of time, but it was the time that Spain was erupting into civil war. Had the author started on his trip through Spain just a little later, his experience would have been very different, and indeed, in A Moment of War, he describes what it was like to go back to Spain to attempt to participate in the war.
While Laurie Lee is apparently well-known in England, I had never heard of him before I stumbled across Cider with Rosie. With As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, I have also become a Laurie Lee enthusiast. I have read the first few chapters of A Moment of War and am looking forward to reading the whole book.
There are those who have criticized the historical accuracy of Mr. Lee’s accounts, but even if not one-hundred percent accurate, they convey the spirit of the time and the conditions of his travels in a way that keeps you reading, or at least kept me reading. And not only kept me reading, but had me wishing that I had had bigger balls when I was young and that I had tales to tell now that would be worth telling.