“I think of all the complicated histories that landscapes have, and how easy it is to wipe them away, put easier, safer histories in their place.
They are only safe for us. The fields where I fly Mabel back in Cambridge are farmed organically, and they are teaming with life. These are not. The big animals are here, it is true: the deer, the foxes, the rabbits; the fields look the same, and the trees, too, but look more carefully and this land is empty. There are few plants other than crops, and few bees, or butterflies, for the soil is dressed and sprayed with chemicals that kill. Ten years ago there were turtle doves on this land. Thirty years ago there were corn buntings and enormous flocks of lapwings. Seventy years ago there were red-backed shrikes, wrynecks and snipe. Two hundred years ago, ravens and black grouse. All of them are gone.
Old England is an imaginary place, a landscape built from words, woodcuts, films, paintings, picturesque engravings. It is a place imagined by people, and people do not live very long or look very hard. We are very bad at scale. The things that live in the soil are too small to care about; climate change too large to imagine. We are bad at time, too. We cannot remember what lived here before we did; we cannot love what is not. Nor can we imagine what will be different when we are dead. We live out our threescore and ten, and tie our knots and lines only to ourselves. We take solace in pictures, and we wipe the hills of history.”
Helen Macdonald: H is For Hawk
The writer of this blog has just finished this mesmerising, deeply moving book, which is above all an account of grief and of relationship between human and hawk….and is also full of inward and outward landscapes and the relationships between… Recommend from the heart.
Here is the book link:-
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