The front door to your house is a familiar colour and shape, outlined by the door frame that tells you you’re home. The lock, which you know intimately, might only open with a very specific turn of the key, at a precise angle.
The ritual of coming home is a process which makes you feel calm and relaxed – back at last, you can breathe easy.
In the exact same way that we recognise home by its particular shapes, colours and even smells, we sub-consciously absorb information from the environment around us. Most of the time, it’s only when we make a big change – like going to another country – that we realise how well we know ‘home’, and just how much of that is made up by the life that surrounds us.
But anyone can tell that Spain isn’t England, or Australia isn’t Sweden. This basic understanding of environments is as natural to us as breathing or talking. The exciting thing is, when you go further than just skimming the surface of what makes your country, county or even local park what it is, there is literally a world out there just waiting for you to have a look.
So, if you imagine Britain as a place of green fields, hedges, white cliffs, sprawling cities and magical forests, and that feeling makes you proud and makes you feel at home, just think how it could feel to have an equally strong bond to the Nature that makes your town what it is, or even what gives one hidden corner in the countryside its identity.
Becoming familiar with your local Nature, by learning about it, gives you a pride of place, and an even stronger sense of home.
By beginning to know the difference between a few types of tree, one or two flowers and a few common birds, the outdoor world that surrounds the four walls and roof of your house becomes a second home – and one that does exactly the same thing: makes you feel calm, relaxed and comfortable.
The white cliffs of Dover turn from a simple cliff of coloured rock, into the crushed and ancient remains of sea life – immortalised as a fortress wall protecting our country.
The shaded forests of Summertime become theaters for birds visiting from Africa, where ancient Oak trees, hundreds of years in the growing, watch over us.
A path through the park is an avenue bordered by flowers that keep time with the seasons; a clock to remind you that Winter is about to end.
Knowing your country well is like having a best friend that will be there, every second of every day of your life. It is a foundation that you can build your life on, because your home isn’t only that comfy sofa in the front room – it’s everywhere that you recognise the life around you. It’s the life that you associate with every part of your identity, and that reminds you – as best friends always do – of who you really are.
“Nerves jangled by a crashing through the wood;
a gallop, breaking the twig-floor.
and an auburn coated deer is ten feet in front of me.”
– J. J. Lillis