The Emotional Landscape

When we were on holiday in the summer, I walked to the bakery every morning and a few times my eldest daughter joined me.

Walking seems to be a good way to connect.  There is something about the rhythmic pounding and arm swinging.  You fall into step and emotionally attune to one another.  There is nothing forced about it; it just happens.

We put the worlds to rights.  We mused and speculated.  We covered diverse topics.  We agreed that we had enjoyed this time together, and would try to make time to walk at home too.

Then life happened.  The school term started, and you know the rest.  But this morning we remembered.

This single rose waved us goodbye at the end of our garden.  Appropriately, it is called ‘Morning Mist’.  It is a David Austin English rose, but is unusual, in that it is a single flower, closer to a species (wild rose).  It has a light musk fragrance.  It is perfect for the wild end of the garden where it has been completely neglected, but just grows away and flowers because it wants to.

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Rosa ‘Morning Mist’

And here is some actual morning mist, peeked through an oak tree, as we were walking over the railway bridge on our lane.

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This is what the hedgerows look like at this time of year (you can compare this with how it looked in spring, in Verdant, and in summer, in Returning the Egg Boxes). Now it is on the wane.  Resources are being pulled in to ensure survival through the winter.

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The leaf-fall has started, but is only light.  There are not enough to wade through or kick around.  That pleasure is to come.

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All around are the dry husks of seedheads.  They have entrusted the next generation to take flight.  They are left to stand and enjoy the view.  (The grass was quite wet here, hence the high-stepping in the background!)

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Our route took us past an old apple orchard.  In previous years the apples have rotted on the ground, but they seem to have been harvested this year.

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These oast houses are typical of our part of the world.  They were once used for drying hops for beer-making.  The white caps are called ‘cowls’.  They are angled to increase air flow and to keep the weather out.

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It is at this point in our walk that I really hit my stride.

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And that is due to this landscape.

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I lived overseas for three years.  During this time my children were very small and one of our favourite story books was Farmer Duck.  On the two inside covers are two beautiful illustrations of a field; one in summer and the other in winter.  The same field, but at different times of the year, looking completely different.  The winter field is ploughed and rich brown, and seagulls fly overhead.  The summer field is green and alive with poppies and wildflowers.  Those two illustrations used to break my heart.  I longed to be within them, and to share them with my children.

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Now I can, and it is a pleasure I never take for granted.

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The mists had cleared to reveal a bright blue sky.  I love the red berries at the top of the hedgerows against the blue of the sky.

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My favourite tree is the oak.  Oak trees support more species (insects, birds, small mammals, other plants and fungi) than any other native tree.  The oaks are just starting to turn.  Their green is fading, and over the next month they will take on mottled hues of orange, ochre and brown.  You can watch a short video showing a year in the life of an English Oak here.

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Dogwoods and field maples are already showing their autumn colours.  I love the slight translucence of their leaves caught in the sunlight.  Age adds subtlety and depth.

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The next crop has already been sown in this field.  To the right is a wide stretch which is left wild.  This allows us to walk the field without disturbing the crop, whilst the diversity of the hedgerows is protected.

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This old oak is going a bit thin on top.  Oaks live for about 120 years.  A mature oak creates 230 kg of new wood in one year.  It will also release 234,000 litres of oxygen into the atmosphere (see more about this here).  Towards the end of its life, it will start to shrink back, losing verdancy from the tips of some of its branches.  But it still stands for now, looking over this path.

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I love this unobtrusive way through the hedgerow.  This is the way humans should move around in nature, remembering our relative size and need.

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We were considerably shorter than these seedheads.  They have completely dessicated, but will provide cover for birds, insects and small mammals in the winter.   I hope to be back to see them covered in frost in a few weeks.

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We returned home feeling refreshed, and having plugged in and reconnected.  There is nothing like a walk to put things into their proper perspective.

What sort of landscape makes you feel rooted or connected?  Do you like to walk alone or with company?  What changes do you notice through the year?

During winter, I seem to walk more.  There are fewer distractions from the garden, and so in order to get my nature fix I have to walk.  I will try to share my winter pops of wonder on this blog.  If you would like to indulge too, then click on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of this page.  You will receive an email each time I post.

28 Comments Add yours

  1. Rupali says:

    It’s a lovely post and yes there is nothing like a refreshing walk.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Rupali.

  2. Its wonderful to spend time with your daughter appreciating the outdoors. Such gorgeous pictures, so relaxing. The rose at the end of your garden is gorgeous! I really enjoyed this post 💗😊

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Lisa, you always leave such lovely comments. X

  3. bcparkison says:

    Nature walks are good for the soul. I need to do more.

    1. Ali says:

      They are. I seem to find it easier to walk in the winter; there are fewer distractions I suppose.

  4. Linda Casper says:

    I enjoy taking the same route and comparing the seasons from the first reawakening to the frost. I also like to see into the gardens of others and guess who lives there. By myself or with others? I don’t mind. It is worth making the effort in the Winter even in the cold, short days for the reward of the afterglow.
    I do enjoy your posts

    1. Ali says:

      That is a great game about wondering who lives in a house. I don’t mind if I am alone or have company either.

  5. susurrus says:

    The dogwood picture is sensational in the true meaning of the word. My sweetheart and I like to walk too, given half a chance.

    1. Ali says:

      I was pleased with the dogwood photo. It is beautiful at the moment.

  6. FlowerAlley says:

    This was so beautiful. I always enjoy our visits. The hops towers are new to me. Fascinating. Thanks friend.

  7. Heyjude says:

    Walking in nature is so relaxing, whether alone or in company. A chance to catch up without disturbances. I know what you mean about the trees in the field. I used to love going to see a pair of trees in a field in Ludlow (where I used to live) in each season to see what the differences were.

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh, I love these four seasons photos! I never tire of watching the changes through the year – my favourite thing about having (at least) four seasons.

  8. Angela says:

    I so enjoyed this post. I love trees (nearly all of them) David Austin roses, and walking with my daughter.

    1. Ali says:

      That is lovely to hear, Angela. They are all joys which, once discovered, stand us in good stead forever.

  9. I may have said this before, but every time I read you blog I feel like I’ve been meditating. The images and words just make me feel as if I’ve lived in your footsteps.

    1. Ali says:

      It is always lovely when someone completely gets a post. Thank you for being here. x

  10. Eliza Waters says:

    Lovely countryside! I have to walk every day and sometimes I just walk until I feel ‘clear.’ Nature is the way I keep balanced– I get a bit nutty if I don’t get out to walk at least once a day (twice is better).

    1. Ali says:

      Then you are my inspiration. Thank you Eliza.

  11. Robyn Haynes says:

    Wonderful photos of your walk. I was intrigued by your title, however – Emotional Landscape. I think my walks serve this purpose for me as well. Walking through an inner and outer landscape.

    1. Ali says:

      That is a perfect description, Robyn. I do my best thinking when I walk alone, and my best listening and thoughtful reflection when walking with another person. I suppose the outer landscape changes only gradually, which allows us time for calm thought.

  12. Cathy says:

    My whole being echoes everything you say, Ali. I love to see the contours of the landscape too – there is a gently rolling field near us that I noticed yesterday had been freshly ploughed…gorgeous! And of course the colour of the soil varies too – this one was deep brown but nearby it is a shade of terracotta

    1. Ali says:

      A freshly ploughed field is a thing of beauty, isn’t it?

      1. Cathy says:

        Indeed it is, Ali 🙂

  13. Love this post, Ali. It is hard for me to decide which type of landscape I prefer. I do like the beach near an ocean, but I don’t like it when it’s crowded. I remember walking on the beach near Amelia Island Florida with my oldest son during a vacation. We would look for sea shells and sand dollars. I think he was ten or eleven at the time. Walking with someone special is special. Glad you have these moments.

    1. Ali says:

      That is a lovely memory. X

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