"All Creatures Great and Small" is the story of James Herriott, a country vet (animal doctor). The setting is at the turn of the 20th century (1900) in and around the tiny villages and moors of northern England. That is the same area my great grandparents knew just before they immigrated to America in 1910. This beautifully filmed series has given me a new appreciation for my ancestors. They left a very green island for a very lonely wilderness of Idaho. I was struck by how similar the wide open spaces of the English moors and the ranch land of southern Idaho are. It's just that one land looks like it might be green year-round, where the other tends to be dry and grey most of the time.
"How the Victorians Built Britain" has also been fascinating to watch. During Queen Victoria's long reign (1837-1901), Britain's people figured out some extraordinary advances in technologies that solved a lot of problems and brought comforts and a measure of safety and prosperity to even the poorest people. The engineers figured out how to put in pipes throughout the cities and towns to bring in fresh clean water and take away sewage. And after they figured out the water systems, they discovered that gas could be manufactured from coal (a product found in abundance in Britain) and could also be piped into the homes to provide light, heat and used as a controllable fuel for cooking.
Imagine going from living in a dark, smelly, sickly city with dangers in the crowded streets (walking people, vehicles, machines, animals and their excrement with no rules of the road), dirty air, polluted water, no sanitation, no street lights, open-fire cooking, poor transportation, and the list goes on. No wonder these technological advances were looked on as miraculous.
Today, I am reminding myself that I have many technological advances to be grateful for --- my heated comfortable home, a car to get me around with a working garage door opener, stores that have goods I can readily buy, devices to work at or entertain me and allow me to connect with family and friends far away, clean running water, safe cooking appliances, refrigerators and freezers --- the list is endless. As a musician, I am especially grateful to have a lovely piano (as well as other keyboards and instruments and a lot of books and copies of music). This would have been a luxury reserved for only the most affluent of society in former days.
My Victorian ancestors would not know what to do with all of these luxuries! So why don't more of us display an attitude of GRATITUDE?