I’ve been quiet on the blog over the summer. I had the best of intentions, but it was too hot and too sunny. My brain decided that writing and thinking were really too much to ask. Now the weather is cooling and the nights are getting darker again, I’m feeling a lot more cheerful. Time to roll up my sleeves and get back to writing.
I’ve rolled up my sleeves for another reason; my mum is moving back to Ireland, after a stay in Scotland of 18 years, so there are plenty of tasks to tackle. We moved here when my dad was offered a job; his dad was born in Scotland and his paternal grandmothers were Scottish women as far back as we can trace. He was excited at the thought of living near the place his father was born.
I hadn’t expected the impact that move would have on me. My first sight of Scotland was out a plane window as we circled Edinburgh airport. When the announcement came that we were coming in to land, I felt something I only knew from book and movie descriptions – a sense of coming home. My heart was full of joy and something like a sense of puzzled absence, as if I couldn’t understand why I had been away so long. This was the place I was meant to be – this land was my home. I hadn’t even stepped off the plane.
I get the same feeling when I see Traprain Law, the featured image for this blog, heave into view. As she rises, or in good Celtic tradition, as the road rises to meet her, I smile and send a greeting. My heart is full, I breathe deep, and I am home.
This feeling of being in the right place has come to the forefront once more now that my mum is moving back to Ireland. Her choice is right for her, as it is for me to stay here, and as it was for Sharon Blackie. In her book, If Women Rose Rooted, she talks about moving to Ireland and her words resonate.
Why is it that some of us come to so deeply identify with one place and not with another? I have no easy answers, only the knowledge that for all my wanderings and switherings, this the place I have always wanted to run back to when things grew difficult, the only place which makes me feel healthy and whole and full of joyful heart. (Blackie, 2016; p.329)
This question, this wonder about our identification with places, is woven into my PhD research. I have no easy answers either, about my place or those of the participants in my study. One thing that is certain for me is that I can do what I do because I am here. This echoes David Abram (2017) when he talks about “recalibrating” by walking, seeing, scenting and sensing the land that has chosen us. He emphasises the importance of a particular place in helping us know and connect with others, in a different take on Margaret Somerville’s research on connections to place-at-distance which I mentioned in a previous post.
Only by being deeply here, in and of this place, am I palpably connected to every other place. (Abram, 2017; p.284)
I like the idea that my place in East Lothian is an anchor point helping me to connect with others. Commuting home a few weeks ago, a song came on the radio. I had initially thought it a standard pop love song, until the lyrics caught my attention.
Maybe what I miss most
It wasn’t made of steel and stone
And maybe what I miss most
It wasn’t born of skin and bone (Scott, 2018)
I realised this was a love song to a place, the place the musician, Calum Scott, called home. He sang about his sense of his place from a distance, the realisation that it was something he couldn’t define – “maybe you’ll never know” – that he was missing. And yet, however far he travelled, part of him was “under three crowns” in Hull. I also like his jealousy of the black bird flying free outside the window, but that is food for a different post! You can listen to the song here.
Me, I’m off out into the garden 🙂
Abram, D. (2017). The spell of the sensuous: Perception and language in a more-than-human world, Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Vintage. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/319/the-spell-of-the-sensuous-by-david-abram/
Blackie, S. (2016). If women rose rooted: The journey to authenticity and belonging. September Publishing. http://sharonblackie.net/purchase-if-women-rose-rooted/
Scott, S, (2018). What I Miss Most lyrics: https://genius.com/Calum-scott-what-i-miss-most-lyrics
Traprain Law image by james denham, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13498271