my grandfather George, his mother, his brother John, and their donkey Mercury


This photo was reputedly taken in 1890. I wonder where it was taken. The donkey and cart, location and picnic basket suggest one thing, but the three people, particularly the mother, look dressed for church or some such.

Such different times…some 24 years before the First World War. Perhaps at that time, one looked ones most chipper at all times, even for a country picnic….keeping up appearances, stiff upper….

I like to think of what simple pleasures they valued and enjoyed back then. What fun to hitch a donkey to a cart, and with a hamper of prepared food and drink, make your way with two companions to a likely spot to enjoy the great outside. There you could eat and drink, talk, sing, play some games, take a nap…

I recently saw a family picnicking in a city park. One child was absorbed in an iPad, the other was playing a game on his father’s phone. Mother was speaking on hers. Only the father seemed aware of his surroundings, gazing idly at the birds, trees and sky….

How deeply distracted we have allowed ourselves to become. We have all, to some extent, become reliant on these extraordinary devices. Surely we would be well advised to severely limit our time on them, treating them as the tools they are, and re-engage more effectively with the world around us, the world to which we really are, physically and spiritually, connected.

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