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I really liked the idea of a sense of place being important. Somewhere you belong. Somewhere you can be happy.
I have read quite a bit of nature writing recently and there is a trend of the writer concentrating their efforts on a very small area of land rather than writing something with a title like Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape. (still a brilliant book)
In these new books the writers spend considerable time, years even getting to know their local environment intimately and writing about their experiences. There is a real sense that they belong in that area and are happy there.
Of course this is not a new thing. Thoreau probably started it off with Walden. Some modern books I can really recommend are Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet by Mark Crocker, Common Ground by Rob Cowen, Deep country, five years in the welsh hills by Neil Ansell (a modern day Walden IMHO) and particularly and especially Nature Cure by Richard Mabey who covers his own breakdown, mental health and depression and how walking and the local countryside helped him explicitly in his book. All of these are British writers but I am sure there are similar writers elsewhere. One Man's Wilderness by Dick Proenneke springs to mind. You can see his films on youtube.
My family have lived in the same village in very rural Somerset for hundreds if not thousands of years if some of the explanations of my odd Latin surname is correct. I have not lived there myself for about 12 years now (moving 7 miles away when I got married was a big step) but I still know every last detail about my home. Drop me within five miles and I can find my way around, not just on the roads but on footpaths and across fields and through hedges. My father can tell me a farmer cut down a certain prominent tree and I know exactly which one he means. I do miss my home.
I now live in an area that has been immortalised in a nature study to that level of detail. I live not far from the real location of Watership Down Richard Adams spent his days walking the countryside around his home and if you know what you are looking for in the pages of the book and the countryside you can pinpoint individual trees that the rabbits pass that still stand in the fields today. Some of the events in the book took place about half a mile from our house.
That gives me an idea. Perhaps I will use the book as a guide to my new home as I continue to explore the area.
Where did all that writing come from? ;)