Excerpt from AMERICASHIRE
Contributor

A handful of She Writes Press authors, including me, have been posting our books--one chapter at a time--over at JukePop this past couple of months. Have you checked it out yet? Here's a little preview of what you can find there. Click the "keep reading" link down at the bottom to get to the full chapter...it's free!

Chapter One: Pink Foil Strips

Spring in the Cotswolds happens very slowly and all at once. In exchange for a few cheerful daffodils, the British collectively suspend their disbelief and start to talk of it in March. But spring doesn’t really happen until mid-April on a particular day, when the landscape is dun brown in the morning but by evening you find that green has tipped the balance. Soon lush shag piles of minty-green grass and weeds and shoots and blooms line the country lanes, rising into pea-soup hedgerows, then the brown latticework of trees still bare except for pinch-faced buds. Over the next two weeks, these unwind into a canopy of chartreuse lace, set off by a sprinkling of bluebells on the woodland floor. These are not blue, lavender, lilac, or violet. They are plain purple, the one you get in the Crayola eight-pack.

Rapeseed happens next. Nothing changes the landscape of the Cotswolds more drastically or quickly than the en masse bloom of this flower. It is the color of Ronald McDonald’s jumpsuit or the cheap mustard you get in a plastic packet with your corndog at the beach, a color that should not occur in nature, yet it does. It appears in swathes that render the hills a crude patchwork of yellow and green and drives half the population crazy with its hay-fever-provoking scent. Despite all this, I love it. I love everything about this brash landscape of unrepentant lime greens and artificial-food-coloring yellows, which is why I start to feel anxious about its demise almost as soon as I notice it’s happening. Soon May blossom whites and peachy cones of horse-chestnut blooms will be sneaking onto the perimeter, silently upstaging their raucous counterparts with understated elegance. The Cotswolds of Matisse will slip into the diffused light of the Cotswolds of Monet.

Amidst the ephemeral pleasures of spring in the countryside, there was something else to be anxious about. It was wrapped up in a rectangular pink foil strip with twenty-eight pills sealed inside. There were six of those strips to be exact, one for each month of the renewed birth control prescription I had just picked up from the village pharmacy. For the past few months, my husband, D, and I had studiously avoided speaking any further about the “big talk” we had given to my parents over Christmas in which we had announced I was going to try to get pregnant. To be fair, there was plenty to be distracted by in our new country life. But the truth was my ambivalence toward motherhood had not shifted, despite large quantities of fresh air.

The pink foil-wrapped revelation of my ambivalence shook my husband. A long-held tenet of our relationship was that I was the decisive one, the one who could be counted on to just get on with it. I presided over the world of black and white, the left-brained, the rational. D held court in the domain of the emotional, the intuitive, the creative. He cries in movies; I bring the tissues. He rearranges the furniture; I pay the mortgage on time. In short, my prescription refill was an act of war: I was invading his territory, and he was pissed.

But before I go any further let me explain how I, a then-thirty-six-year-old American, ended up contemplating motherhood in a Cotswold village with a population dwarfed by that of any single London street. The stock explanation is that we needed to get a good night’s sleep. Since moving to England from Los Angeles, my British husband and I had failed to find accommodation conducive to this simple aim. Our first flat was on a Bayswater side street filled with tall white stucco-fronted terraces that had once been grand single-family homes. They had long since been divided and subdivided again into a rabbit warren of hundreds of studio and one-bedroom flats. D had secured ours online ahead of our arrival in London, and I’ll never forget the feeling of shock upon climbing the four narrow flights of stairs, my arms laden with bursting suitcases, and flinging open the door for the first time to behold just how small three hundred ninety-six square feet really is. Despite its size and thanks to its Kensington Gardens–adjacent address, it cost more in rent each month than the mortgage payment on the Los Angeles home we had just left behind. As if that wasn’t enough, the pipes knocked all night and a chorus of lunatics routinely serenaded us, their howls ricocheting off the urban canyon formed by the back-to-back mansion blocks.

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