The landscapes that dwarf us

Today, I took the children hill-running.

I’ve always loved landscapes that swallow me up, or make me so tiny that I don’t matter, because within them, for a moment, I can feel free. If I don’t matter, I can let go of all my worries.

I love the feel of rock beneath me; it’s like when we stare at the moon and it’s the same moon that everyone sees, or when we touch the sea, the same ocean that everyone touches — these things connect us. The irony is, by going to the vast places and feeling insignificant, I feel more anchored to the earth, myself, and to those who want to know me.

Cornwall has a vastness, a peninsular abandonment, that holds its own gravity. Its bleakness drives into us as we run across it; it becomes part of us. The air’s pristine, the ground’s granite or moss, and the coast is never far away. The horizon is often a smooth curve of blue on blue; great expanses of wet desert that make us cling to our rock. We are battered by storms but we stay — the land is solid, the people more so. It feels permanent; we hope it is. Everyone leaves, then they come back.


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