Ladydale Diary

St. Edmund, King and Martyr, 2020

Today is the feast of a saint who’s especially close to my heart. St. Edmund was an Anglo-Saxon king who was martyred by the pagan Vikings. His shrine was in the town of Bury St. Edmunds, once known as St. Edmundsbury, in Suffolk, which is only fifteen miles from the town in which I spent my childhood. Until the Crusaders returned with a great devotion to St. George, St. Edmund was co-patron of England, along with St. Edward the Confessor, another great Saxon king who was eulogized by Shakespeare in Macbeth. Bury St. Edmunds’ other claim to fame is that it boasts the smallest pub in England, appropriately called the Nutshell, at which I have had the privilege to sup.

Here in Ladydale, the major news this week is the visit to our Fairy Wood of Glimfeather. For those who don’t know, Glimfeather was the owl who helped Eustace and Jill in the quest to find Prince Rillan in The Silver Chair. I have no idea why he should have strayed from Narnia to the Fairy Wood in Ladydale but we were honoured to have him; if indeed it was him and not merely one of his distant cousins. Fairy Wood, I should explain, is the wood that nestles up to the west side of our home, as distinct from Fern Wood, which is to the south of the house, Peach Blossom Wood, which is to the east, and Deer Wood, which is across the creek to the north.

Susannah was speaking to me in the living room when she glanced out the window and remarked that she saw something that looked like an owl. Peering more intently, she exclaimed that it was an owl. It was perched in a tree, not more than fifty or so feet from the house. It was a little surprising to see it because it was still a good two hours till dark. Grabbing her camera, Susannah stalked through the woods, snapping photographs of the bird, getting closer and closer. Surprisingly, it showed no inclination to fly off. The reason became clear enough. It appeared to be asleep, or at least dozing. Evangeline then crept closer and found herself practically standing underneath the roosting raptor, enraptured by her close encounter with it. She said afterwards that it knew she was there, surveying her with half opened eyes and with a nonchalant indifference. One of Susannah’s photographs of Glimfeather is this week’s featured image.

Since last week, I’ve been continuing my online teaching. Last Friday I taught the last of the four plays in the mini-course on Shakespeare for Red Cultural in Chile, concluding with The Merchant of Venice. This Friday (today), we embarked on another four-week mini-course, this time on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Last Friday and today I also continued my regular weekly interviews for the Son Rise Morning Show on Sacred Heart Radio. Focusing on my book, Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know, we discussed Siegfried Sassoon last week and T. S. Eliot this week.

I managed to set Tuesday aside for writing my latest book, the history of True, i.e. Catholic, England. I’ve now written a little over 70,000 words and we’ve reached the end of the eighteenth century. I’m estimating another 15,000 words to bring the book to completion and I still have high and probably overly optimistic hopes of having it finished by Christmas. We shall see….

Tuesday evening was the regular monthly “Tuesdays with the Troubadours”, an online event that I co-host with four comrades, Dale Ahlquist, Christopher Check, William Fahey and Daniel Kerr, most of whom should need no introduction to members of the Inner Sanctum.

On Wednesday evening I continued the teaching of the course on Imaginative Literature for Memoria College, focusing on Macbeth.

Yesterday was largely taken up with my work as Director of Book Publishing for the Augustine Institute.

I’m writing this late on Friday afternoon, having recorded this week’s Inner Sanctum podcasts earlier, and I’m still hopeful of writing my editorial for the next issue of the St. Austin Review before the day’s out. I’ll be working the late shift!

On that tiring but hopefully not tiresome note, I’ll wish my friends in the Inner Sanctum a suitably festive Thanksgiving!