I'm fascinated by a stunning, heart-opening new book of photographs that chronicles English life and eccentricity in the village of Firle in East Sussex. Called About A Village (Photographs by E. J. McCabe, 2011), it's an intimate look at a village with about the same number of residents as Langley on the south end of Whidbey Island. The photographer celebrates the people, the homes, dogs, shops, gardens, and natural beauty of this bit of Southern England.
"Perhaps there is a perfect size for a village to be and maybe that size is not so big that it can be dominated by one particular interest group and not so small that it struggles to belong to itself," reads the introduction, reminding me of my speculation about the perfect size town in a story I wrote about Langley that ran in Pacific Northwest Magazine in the Seattle Times last spring.
The individualistic residents, the strong sense of community, and all the flowers and eye-catching village vignettes in About A Village remind me so much of Langley. Every walk into town here is filled with visual pleasures, as it looks to be in Firle; here are a couple of local scenes this week in Langley:
A forest of self-seeded holleyhocks line an alley behind First Street.
A quieter scene down a hidden alley by a coffee shop
And even a local realtor is half-hidden behind a bower of pink roses on Second Street.