Moving Through The Landscape

After the changeable weather of the first week I was here, the past week has, except for one day, been gloriously warm and sunny – and when the weather is like this, I could not be happier. It lulls me into wishing that I lived here again.

As always, it is the familiarity of the landscape and the deep presence of history that nourishes me. I feel it as I travel around by train – from the south coast, passing through the area I grew up in on the way down to the west country, content to watch the changing scenery through the window, wondering if indeed I had to live across the world to appreciate the place I come from. But I have felt the nourishment most intensely on my various runs, the main theme of which has been getting around routes I have done before, and managing to navigate various footpaths and by-ways that I haven’t always been able to find.

On Friday of last week, I went out in the warm sun and climbed up to the downs to take in the long vews north from Devil’s Dyke; away from the traffic there were buzzards and pheasants, horses, cows and sheep, and a deep sense of exhilaration for the land. On the way down I took a long straight track that followed the crown of a ridge, perhaps many centuries old, that I had missed before when coming in the other direction.

In Cornwall I have gone up and down the folds of land which rise steeply from the streams and rivers. The first run was the shortest, but still testing, round the former dog-walking route; then I went over to Cadsonbury, a Bronze Age hilltop fortress, and along the tree-lined Lynher, with several fearsome climbs to negotiate, before tackling Kit Hill on Thursday, with clear views in all directions across the county, east to Brentor and Princeton on Dartmoor; the mouth of the Tamar, and Viverdon Down to the south; Goonhilly Down and Caradon to the west – all places that have resonated in my life.

My dad’s health continues to decline; as I was here, my step-mother got a break and went to visit friends. I help with meals and anything else he asks for, and there is a kind and entertaining carer who comes to help him get dressed and washed. I walk the dog, though he is also getting old and doesn’t go far these days, and lavish attention on the cats, especially the new kitten whose horizons have expanded greatly in the time I have been here. I have kept my hand in building a little rock wall in one corner of the garden. It seems that this house will be sold after my father dies, so I have been especially drinking in the small charms of this little corner of the world where my ancestors were based for so long, and wondering if I will find a way to stay connected with it.

The corner of the field next to the house, where I walk the dog in the morning.

The road up to town, with its wonderful canopy of big trees.

My friends have been getting daily kitten updates.

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