Thursday 26 April 2007

Where are our roots?

We all (yes, even ASBO) drove to town this morning in the dark. Dropped James off at the bus and then went for a walk up on the moor. The persistent rain of the last few weeks has left the moor very boggy so we stuck mainly to the bridleways and paths. Adrian was doing his usual mapping – trying to work out where certain farms are, and where different paths go. I have absolutely no sense of direction and just follow aimlessly, nodding sagely at intervals. Jack hates this part of the moor as there is lots of low-growing gorse which is, I guess, pretty tough on a small terrier’s pads. He can be a bit of a wuss sometimes – but did look very dainty picking his way through and occasionally stopping, with one paw raised, clearly asking to be picked up and carried. Fat chance!
Clonteen, we saw a few larks and Jack disturbed two snipe – which set off with a short sharp chirrup and then fly – incredibly fast – in a zig-zag motion before settling into a straighter flight path. Other than that it was mainly rooks flapping black against the clearing sky.

Adrian was in a very thoughtful mood as we tramped. The (truncated) trip to Wales has obviously set something off in him and, since he’s returned, he has been talking a lot about his family roots, originally in mid-Wales – Dolgellau, Bala, Aberystwyth, Machylleth and environs. He says that, although he doesn’t think he would want to live there, he does feel a pull – the good old hiraeath I suppose (please forgive my spelling). It got us thinking about whether we are genetically bound to some places – the land calling in some way to our DNA. Which led me to feel quite bereft as I really don’t think my family has one place of origin (well, obviously we do, but it must be lost in the mists of time). I think it would be wonderful to feel you have a ‘soul’ place – somewhere to which you truly belong. We are all such wanderers nowadays – moving so far from our roots. But, as Adrian says, if we all stayed in the same place, we’d never move on – and, as he pointed out, we two would never have met.

It was an interesting, thought-provoking discussion and one that made me understand, maybe for the first time, why so many people are entranced with discovering their family trees. I have never really seen the point as – firstly I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t find any long lost rich ancestors who might want to drag me into their wills and secondly I find it hard to drum up any connection to mere names on birth certificates. But a village now…..or a farm….or a hillside – now those would be worth discovering and owning (in whatever subtle way one could). Because, go back far enough, and we are all country dwellers.

We saw a couple of riders on the horizon but didn’t meet a soul until we got back to the car and ‘good morninged’ a chap who was about to exercise four Springers and two black labs (all in very good nick and obviously working dogs). As we drove back the sky looked a bit ominous. The mist had settled snugly down in the combes – looking very odd and almost artificial, as if someone had patted down a bunch of cotton wool.

No comments: