East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

On the first long walk of 2019


Today has been a good day. Nice weather, sunny with a light breeze, and we spent the day with a visiting relation that surprised us. And I mean surprised us as in “Oh, my good, our house is a dump!”
But we survived, and spent the day rambling about the countryside.

I have tons of work to do, actually, and “wasting” a whole day completely screwed up my schedule – never mind it’s Sunday – but on the other hand it was not a day wasted. It was a day spent to clear our systems after a long winter spent locked up in our house, trying to keep the cold away.
For us, this is the beginning of the best part of the year, before the torrid summer months.

One thing that always strikes me is how the people that live in the country hereabouts seem not to appreciate, not to “get” the place they live in. Probably it’s a case of “familiarity breeds contempt”, it’s because the countryside is for them a given, worse, it’s their workplace, but most people are not really interested in observing the landscape. Possibly the most aware of the rural landscape are hunters and poachers, because they are always on the lookout for places where, sooner or later, they will come with their guns and their dogs.

As a geologist, I have a good grasp of the general landscape-building phenomena, and today, as we could not walk very briskly, I took some time browsing the landscape like a book, for the delectation (and probably, at length, the boredom) of my companions. I pointed out fluvial erosion, ancient and recent human impacts, etc.
We spotted a fox, very shy, and saw a few herons and what I think was a kestrel, as the sun went down. But I found out I am very inadequate where the local flora and fauna are concerned.

I have a few John Seymour books I bought second hand (yes, I’m cheap) when I moved to the these hills, because I am the sort of guy that thinks everything can be learned from a book. The Countryside Explained is a lovely book from 1977, and the later The Lore of the Land looks to me like the book that launched a million small local museums of country living. Seymour’s books are very British-centric – just as British-centric as Tristan Gooley’s books about landscape and navigation.
I still hope, one day, to be able to develop my own guide to these hills, for hikers and picnic-goers.

But anyway, it was good go back to the open air after the long winter.
Now, a hot tea and a book. Tomorrow we’re back into the rat race.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

6 thoughts on “On the first long walk of 2019

  1. A day spent hiking is ALWAYS a day well spent.


  2. Lovely images. Have a good week in the rat race.


  3. It’s good to do a complete get out of your own head day. I did it this weekend. It was wonderful. You have some stunning countryside surrounding you… wow.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.