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Life with Lavendar in London town

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

When I lived in London in the mid nineties, I spent the first few months staying with a friend in Westerham; a small village in Kent. I arrived during a season where Kent was green and lush and I realised why the county is called The Garden Of England. I spent many hours walking in fields and woodlands, all the while marvelling how innocuous the environment was. As an Australian fresh off the plane, I couldn't quite get my head around the fact that there seemingly was nothing in the woods that could kill me.

Nowadays I live in a  green part of London. I am within walking distance to one of the best wild commons in the city. There are many lovely parks close by to go and visit. The streets where I live are thick with trees and flowers. Flora and fauna reside in abundance. Wild foxes roam the streets in broad daylight. The local riding school sees a calvacade of horses and ponies parade up the main street most weekends with young girls (mainly) hanging on for dear life.  Dogs of all shapes and sizes lollop through the common in a frenzy of unbridled joy at being out in a wide, open space. It is not a barren, urban landscape I live in.

It is all perfectly lovely. Yet something is missing.

During that time in Kent all those years ago, I read The Riders by Australian author, Tim Winton. In there I found a paragraph about the English landscape that I've never forgotten. Written from the point of view of a man surveying a rural English landscape, it sums up what is missing for me right now:

Lanes and hedges and strands of timber and boggy bordeens went out at all angles under his gaze as the wind tore his hair.  From here it all seemed orderly enough, leading, as it did to and from this very spot in every direction.  It was a small, tooled, and cross-hatched country, simple, so amazingly simple from above. Every field had a name, every path a stile. Every thing imaginable had been done or tried out there. It wasn't the feeling you had looking out on his own land. In Australia you looked out and saw the possible, the spaces, the maybes. Here the wilderness was pressed into something else; into what had already been.

I miss this view

The possible, the spaces, the maybes.

Arguably all wilderness has the above within it.

I just miss the brand I grew up with.