My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Rural travel: the restorative powers of nature

We came across these sheep sleeping by the side of the road in the isolated north east of Crete and we spent some time simply taking pleasure in their peace. We’ve done this a lot recently, as we’ve travelled around Crete and Cyprus, pulling the car over to watch some ducks paddling across a creek or goats clambering up a hill, spending some moments taking in a bucolic landscape, a field blanketed with mustard flowers, or falcons gliding over a limestone gorge. The effect has been soothing, calming, even uplifting, and invigorating. In the Art of Travel, Alain de Botton writes about a trip he took to the Lake District, England. While the reasons for the journey were personal, he tells us, they belonged to a broader eighteenth century historical movement when city dwellers started to travel to the country “to restore health to their bodies, and more important, harmony to the souls.” De Botton ruminates about nature’s ability to heal and inspire, and about English Romantic poet William Wordsworth who would sit under a tree with a sublime landscape before him, writing about daffodils dancing in the breeze and other odes to the restorative power of nature. Admired for his ability to reveal the poetic beauty in the everyday, Wordsworth believed that nature was a requirement of happiness, and, as De Botton discovers, that birds, streams and sheep were indispensable in correcting the damage inflicted by city life. That nature helped us to seek out the good in life. According to De Botton, Wordsworth found instances of sanity, purity and permanence in nature, flowers were models of humility, animals the paragons of stoicism, and went as far as to invite readers to look at the world through animals’ eyes. De Botton also finds himself coming face to face with some sheep on his trip. It’s interesting to know that Wordsworth’s poetry (like films today) attracted travellers to the places that inspired it, so that, as De Botton tells us, by 1845 it was thought that the Lake District had more tourists than sheep.

No comments: