Today, I drove over 200 miles, a round trip across a good width of this country. County boundaries were crossed, towns and villages navigated. From sun to rain and back again.
I understand that in some countries, this wouldn’t count for much. But here, it’s a long way. I’m pretty tired now.
But such trips are wonderful for exploring the diversity of my lovely homeland… while at the same time, feeling the similarities.
We have our different tribes still. Nottingham is different in mood and feel to Derby (they’re approximately 15 miles apart). Both are far removed in life and geography from London, Newcastle or – crossing amorphous national boundaries – Cardiff or Edinburgh.
Yet, when I speak to people of ‘spirits of the land’, they always nod in understanding. That almost territorial ‘vibe’, made up of the human societies which live in these places and demarcate the boundaries, but not confined to just the human residents. This is still very much felt, whether consciously or when reminded.
The land my partner and I visited today was beautiful – birch and gorse, with a magnificent lake in glorious sunshine (and then an equally marvellous rainstorm!). It had its own definite character, and we were glad to get to know it a little.
As I drove home, I passed way-markers. You are Now Entering Lincolnshire. Then Nottinghamshire. Sherwood Forest. Derbyshire – and home.
I reached out to those ancient trees as I passed. We waved to the magpies and dodged the ravens playing on the roads. I felt the pull of my own little place as I moved nearer. The spirits of the land are clear in this wild countryside, even as the tarmac and concrete of civilization try to tame it. It’s good to explore, to reach out and actively notice, feel that connection.
Back on my hilltop, I breathe deeply. My home, my place, where I am known and held. Before I head out again tomorrow.