Strange it should happen this way, but it’s been a person, most recently, who has returned me to the place I call home: Shropshire in England.
It came as a surprise in December as London shimmered and festered around us. Shop lights, buses and billboards veiled the onset of winter, soaking up the season’s solemn contemplations like a dishcloth.
His presence—quiet passion, solid like the earth—sent me back to the Shropshire hills of home, reminding me of what I love and why: the heavy folds of draped earth I hug around myself when lost.
With Wales to the west, it’s a county of hills, valleys and woods. The Severn snakes a watery way through while the heather moors of the Stiperstones and Long Mynd sit wild and proud, rugged in their fragility.
Sleeping there now, windows flung open to the summer air, the birdsong alone transports me back 20 years. The unblinking tawny owl hoots me into a familiar slumber, cheek at peace on childhood cotton sheets, while wistful wood pigeons coo-coax me awake. Constancy amidst change: nature’s soothing symphonies.
This was my landscape made from joy and jam sandwiches. Buzzards wheeled overhead while deer crept cautiously from their wooded womb: eyes wide, ears back. Mushrooms mellowed—encircled by autumn mist—around the oak tree I could see from my bedroom window, and bluebells carpeted the floor come April. From the spiders spinning cradles of gems to the hedgerows offering up wildflowers like gifts, nature’s conveyer belt of familiar miracles now softens my double-glazed eyes.
Today I feel grateful for his presence out there, somewhere in the city. Where panic rises at being far away from those blue-remembered hills, from a place to scream unheard into nature’s silence, I feel comfort in knowing a soul who understands I need to.
He’s part of me now. What the city removes, he helps put back. Where concrete and crowds confuse, he simplifies. He helps my mind return to the place I call home. To where I can love and be loved: Shropshire.