Winter Landscapes

Winter landscape
Winter landscape

The clocks changed this weekend, taking the US an hour closer to Europe for the rest of the month. Suddenly the evening lasts longer and spring seems a possibility although this is still a winter landscape, deep snow, the trees still dormant. But it feels time to emerge and experience landscape again, to be physically connected to it.

What is landscape? According to Simon Schama in Landscape and Memory the word entered the English language

along with herring and bleached linen,as a dutch import at the end of the sixteenth century. p10

Landscape differs from scenery or land or background in that it is always framed, it is the framing of an image, picture making, whether by an artist’s eye, a camera’s lens, a Claude-glass  or the interior eye of memory. It is a relationship between viewer and place.

Journal prompt: Think about the winter landscapes that you know. List them as you think of them.  Describe the one you can see with your outer or inner eye. Is it in front of you? Is it a memory? How do you relate to it? How far away are you?

In The Old Ways, his book about ancient tracks in Britain and beyond, Robert Macfarlane writes:

Winter Landscape
Winter Landscape

I have long been fascinated by how people understand themselves using landscape, by the topographies of self we carry within us and by the maps we make with which to navigate these interior terrains. p26

Writing about such places takes us into much larger realms of the self and experience than we can imagine. Our personal history is also our personal geography. In writing we can re-inhabit the landscapes of our lives but we can also use the distance of memory to write about how we have got here from there.

Placeless events are inconceivable, in that everything that happens must happen somewhere, and so history issues from geography in the same way that water issues from a spring: unpredictably but site-specifically. p147

Who are your favourite writers on landscape (fact or fiction)? Leave a comment on this post.


4 thoughts on “Winter Landscapes”

  1. Mary, Thanks for that reminder – I know only a small sample of his writing but will remedy that. The SouthWest is a special area.
    See you in Arizona in April
    I’m looking forward to our joint workshop on Landscapes at the NAPT conference


  2. Ted, yes – and the fact that we have some recordings of him reading his own works adds another layer to the relationship between people & place.


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