For children, a sense of exploration is second nature. Somewhere along the way, adults begin to lose this curiosity with the world around them. For some, this never leaves and they are driven to continue to explore within themselves and into new lands. Within the field of Anthropology, cultures are studied across the globe to learn more about the myriad ways that people live. Sharing the experience of being human, the Anthropologist becomes a part of the community and learns the social ecosystem from within. No matter where the community lives,the natural landscape shapes, not only the way of life, but the way of being.
For example, those living in arid dry regions, find their housing and food sources determined by the lack of natural shade, water, and wind blocks. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, as I look out at the landscape on which I now live. The rolling hills, the short scraggly trees, the swells and crashing ocean waves, and immense rock all speak to a way of life, being, and identity. For those who do not venture out to explore their own landscapes, they still will feel a kinship and identify with it. It imprints on the psyche and becomes the familiar place of home. If you have travelled, you will recognise a gentle sense of relief when the horizon becomes marked by that which is familiar.
As a Forest Therapy guide, it is my work to help others connect to their landscapes, both external and internal. I spend my time within natural areas, connecting and simply being. After moving provinces in Canada, I knew that I would miss my friends and community. What I hadn’t anticipated was a homesickness for the land. I had developed a deep connection to the forests, streams, pathways, rocks, and creatures. The land carried old stories of logging, farmlands, homesteads, canoeing, mining,and regrowth. I had developed a deep sense of belonging. It wasn’t until I left that familiar space that I recognised a sense of loss and grief for the natural landscape that was home to me.
Today, I gaze out at this new land, I recognise that this landscape is someone else’s home. The land here carries different stories. The ocean carries a history of sadness, survival, heartache, and intrigue. The rocky hills and cliffs are shaped by the strength of the winds and an ancient lifetime spanning back millions of years. People utilize fires within their homes and in the woods to help keep the cold at bay.Seventeen varieties of berries are plucked to be turned into foodstuffs from the hillsides, fish are laid out to be dried and smoked. I step out and while I miss the landscape of my home, I also know that by building a connection to this landscape, I will find a sense of belonging and community here as well. Like a house plant being transplanted, it will take time for my roots to take hold. By spending time exploring the new sights, sounds, and cadence, I will begin to flourish once again.
As you gaze out at the natural landscape around you, notice the features that feel like home for you, and offer gratitude for this gift. For many who stay within their community,the landscape can often be taken for granted. Our homes are more than the walls built around us. They are the landscapes which shape and define who we are in the world.
Originally published in Nature’s Gold Magazine, Issue 6: Spring 2021