On the first long walk of 2019
Today has been a good day. Nice weather, sunny with a light breeze, and we spent the day with a visiting relation that surprised us. And I mean surprised us as in “Oh, my good, our house is a dump!”
But we survived, and spent the day rambling about the countryside.
I have tons of work to do, actually, and “wasting” a whole day completely screwed up my schedule – never mind it’s Sunday – but on the other hand it was not a day wasted. It was a day spent to clear our systems after a long winter spent locked up in our house, trying to keep the cold away.
For us, this is the beginning of the best part of the year, before the torrid summer months.
One thing that always strikes me is how the people that live in the country hereabouts seem not to appreciate, not to “get” the place they live in. Probably it’s a case of “familiarity breeds contempt”, it’s because the countryside is for them a given, worse, it’s their workplace, but most people are not really interested in observing the landscape. Possibly the most aware of the rural landscape are hunters and poachers, because they are always on the lookout for places where, sooner or later, they will come with their guns and their dogs.
As a geologist, I have a good grasp of the general landscape-building phenomena, and today, as we could not walk very briskly, I took some time browsing the landscape like a book, for the delectation (and probably, at length, the boredom) of my companions. I pointed out fluvial erosion, ancient and recent human impacts, etc.
We spotted a fox, very shy, and saw a few herons and what I think was a kestrel, as the sun went down. But I found out I am very inadequate where the local flora and fauna are concerned.
I have a few John Seymour books I bought second hand (yes, I’m cheap) when I moved to the these hills, because I am the sort of guy that thinks everything can be learned from a book. The Countryside Explained is a lovely book from 1977, and the later The Lore of the Land looks to me like the book that launched a million small local museums of country living. Seymour’s books are very British-centric – just as British-centric as Tristan Gooley’s books about landscape and navigation.
I still hope, one day, to be able to develop my own guide to these hills, for hikers and picnic-goers.
But anyway, it was good go back to the open air after the long winter.
Now, a hot tea and a book. Tomorrow we’re back into the rat race.