Thursday, November 09, 2006

A sense of place......

The english language has some truly simple words in it, such as disease, meaning not being at ease and ‘belonging’ meaning ‘ being long’ in a place. I guess being long in a place, staying for a while gives us the opportunity to really get to know the place, getting a sense of the place and with whom we share this corner of the earth. Throughout the seasons, I notice plants coming and going and yet if I linger long enough, I should be able to map out where the wild garlic grows, where I can pick blackberries and sloes. Where the best apples are, wild flowers and mushrooms. As a child I still had a sense of wonder. My parents lived in a house near a brook in which I spent quite some time playing with stones and watching the water flow. The forests that surrounded it had clearings in which a type of blueberry ‘ myrtilles’ could be found and during the summer months I would find that clearing and claim my berries. Although I no longer visit that corner of earth, my children enjoyed their trips to grandma enormously, not only because she had simple rituals such as making biscuits and going for long walks, but also because she had a map of the garden and the brook, where the children added their treasure finds and beauty spots for others to explore next visit.
When our children revisit the place we ‘ belonged’ in childhood, they experience it with wonder that long has left the adult perspective and yet the treasures they find are the ones I too looked upon with wonder . Maybe a simple gift we can give ourselves is to make a treasure map of where we live, where our life belongs and add the wonderful places we like so much with clues .... X marks the spot of the puffball mushroom to be found at around a particular time of the year. The place where sloes are collected could be marked and the book of adventures could include the family recipe to make sloe gin, to be enjoyed as adults by the fire in darkest January. How lovely too to give that book to the next people who will make your house their home in the future, your children or others. Its a simple gift but also priceless local information, a little magic book with a built in treasure hunt, including the history of your garden, why you planted that tree or the rosebush that was given for mothers day. Its this perspective that gives us a sense of belonging and a sense of adventure when we get itchy feet. It takes time to make such a book, but in making it together you may discover what gives you a sense of place and where you belong and with whom. It certainly will reduce your carbon footprint and increase your local knowledge. While the moon shines bright tonight and a frost descends on our valley, I can see orion’s belt in the sky and add a heavenly starry sky to my treasure map.

No comments: