One of the delights of repeated exposure to a landscape is the growing level of granularity in our observation and enjoyment of it. A hedgerow or embankment or copse yields more beauty and variety the more we see it.

Here George Eliot evokes the tenderness of familiarity with fields or forest. I remember as a child playing in the local park where I had an intimate knowledge of the roots of some old trees, and the whereabouts of different shrubs.

Living in a different country now, and taking a near daily two hour walk across fields and up into sloping woodland, we are getting to know the paths, flowers, trees, rills, stumps, gardens and views by repeated exposure. Only yesterday I saw for the first time an old stone obelisk oddly plonked where the field meets the forest.

To develop a sense of belonging to a place, as taught by ewes to their lambs, is to be ‘hefted’. How hefted are you and where to? Answers on a postcard, real or virtual…

‘… a pretty bit of midland landscape, almost all meadows and pastures, with hedgerows still allowed to grow in bushy beauty and to spread out coral fruit for the birds. Little details gave each field a particular physiognomy, dear to the eyes that have looked on them from childhood.’


Source: George Eliot, Middlemarch (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 107

Photo credit: GerDukes at pixabay


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