One of my favourite books is Anna Karenina. The main story lines are about relationships - some of them stumbling along (Dolly and Stiva), one blossoming after a false start (Kitty and Levin) and the one in the title (Anna and Count Vronsky) igniting with hot passion and ending in tragedy. What I also found absorbing, however, was the contrast between city living (in Moscow and St Petersburg) and the lyrical descriptions of living in the country with long passages spent discussing farming and the differing perspectives of worker and landowner. As Kitty prepares for the birth of their first child, Levin tires of life in the city and throws himself into work on the farm. He is happiest when exhausted from a day's hard work scything the fields with his peasant workers.
The 1997 film of Anna Karenina has a beautifully shot scene of Levin and his peasants scything a field* ending with the womenfolk arriving over the crest of the hill with hay rakes singing the old Russian chant, 'Harvesting the field'. It is wonderful! Watch the movie and weep!
If you wish to try and emulate Levin in his search for inner peace and tranquility then you must go along to Stephen Park in Gisburn Forest on Sat 28th July at 10am when Littoral Arts will be training novices in the gentle art of scything at a Forest of Bowland AONB taster day. If you have a scythe and/or have done some before then you will be especially welcome and invited to talk about your experiences. (Who knows, you may end up starring in a film some day.) The weather will be fine and beards and plaits (but not on the same person) are welcome but not essential. Here's the full details of the event on a flyer.
*On closer inspection, the film clip shows some peasants shuffling to keep in shot of the camera rather than striding into the task - nevertheless, a wonderful bit of cinema.