“We tend to think of landscapes as affecting us most strongly when we are in them or on them, when they offer us the primary sensations of touch and sight. But there are also the landscapes we bear with us in absentia, those places that live on in memory long after they have withdrawn in actuality, and such places – retreated to most often when we are most remote from them – are among the most important landscapes we possess.”
– Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot
Wednesday April 22nd is Earth Day. This year, which marks 50 years since the first Earth Day, many of us will be estranged from the natural world and the landscapes and locations that we hold so dear. Staying home and doing our small part to protect our health care systems and turn the tide on COVID-19 is far more important. Many people are missing being able to look out to sea, let alone immerse themselves in it; others are unable to take a walk in the woods and surround themselves with the majesty of trees as they burst into life again. Lots of people aren’t fortunate enough to have a garden or outdoor space in which to connect with nature.
We are incredibly lucky here in Cornwall, but even in such a rural coastal area a huge number of people are still more than the prescribed walking distance from a view of the sea. In these strange and unsettling times, and on Earth Day in particular, having a landscape in our memory that we can visit is more important than ever.