We think of ourselves as in landscape, but sometimes forget that landscape is also in us. We are all landscapes, and the landscapes we are can change. Perhaps because we move to a new place, and the characteristics of that place begin slowly to seep into us. Or they might change because we focus in on a different aspect of the landscape in which we remain. If we allow ourselves to truly be in our places, to close our eyes and let ourselves fall, tumbling down into the dreaming of the land we inhabit, then that land will always live inside us, just as we live inside it. We will come to embody it, and it will embody us. Who then will be able to say where the land ends and we begin?
Sometimes, we long for landscapes which are different from those we inhabit: places in which we imagine we might be better able to belong. I have been a wild, rocky shoreline in a humid, landlocked country, and clawed my way downstream, home again to the sea. I am a collection of all the landscapes I have loved. Inside me is a desert, fierce sun laying bare all my imagined inadequacies. Inside me is an island at the end of the world on which I became stranded, castaway; on which I merged so deeply with the oldest, hardest rock on the planet that I feared petrification. I have been storm there, spitting words and tears onto the land like hail. I have never been rainforest; I could never be jungle. I am the stripped-to-the-bones sharp summit of a bare windswept mountain; the simple, silent clarity of an early morning bog.
Inside me now is a river. A bright, laughing river, through a fertile green valley tempered by the stark bog which stretches up into the bare rocky heights of the mountains I love. Watched over by heron and crow; stalked by fox and badger, settled by otter and salmon. I might drift quietly sometimes; I might dance my way across stepping stones. I might hurl myself, shouting, down a waterfall, or rest for a while in the still dark pool which harbours a sleeping trout. Sure of my path, but always journeying. Sometimes I’m a trickle, sometimes I’m in full spate, but always, always, there’s the flow.