That’s how it’s been for me lately; which way do I turn. Which path to take. I need to take stock and focus on a recurring dream I have: maps, routes, landscapes.
I’m a great fan of books by Robert Macfarlane and one book that comes to mind just now is Landmarks. It’s a book about language and landscape and after each chapter, the author adds a glossary of words relating to the landscape of that chapter, for example, flowing water words like the Gaelic “caochan” meaning slender moor-stream obscured by vegetation, Sussex “rife” for a small river flowing across a coastal plain, or Yorkshire “sike” for a small stream flowing through marshy ground. I am no linguist or language expert but just look what I’m missing! Words used describing the natural environment of these islands come from so many different languages and cultures, including Irish, Welsh, Old English, Gaelic, Cornish…….and so the list goes on. The book also wishes to capture these words now and hold them for future generations. Macfarlane tells of the deletion of words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary because they are not relevant to modern day childhood. Words like acorn, beech, conker, and many, many more. By contrast, newly introduced words thought to be more relevant to the children of today are bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom and so on.
I’ve just written all of that and whilst I bought Landmarks when it was first published in 2015, I think I shall have to read it again, and all his other brilliant books!