“In German lingers an old word, Ortsbewustung, designating the bewildering or wildering of a once-maintained, ordered, loved place. In English, bewilderment is a new term, traceable to about 1620. From its beginning it connoted being lost or confounded in a pathless place, often a dark wood, but also being confused, from the Old English wilder, to be led astray, as a hunter following a beast can be led astray, made lost.”
from ‘What is Landscape?’, by John R. Stilgoe.
I told myself I would write this before I went on holiday, and I’m leaving very soon. I don’t know why I’ve made such a fuss about it, about not writing it, because it’s fairly simple, though it touches on a lot that’s not so simple.
This winter I was bewildered on Vault beach. Rocks on the shore are covered or uncovered by the sea. Huge slabs of rock slip down from the cliffs in slices, soil and clay and plants as well. Yet the old flower stems of the mullein still stood just a few feet from the edge of the beach, in spite of our noisy extended family of storms: Desmond, Eva, Imogen, Katie, Henry, Gertrude, Jake, Frank, Abigail. And there are new plants with basal rosettes of leaves waiting to send up new flowering stems.
Here is erosion on a tiny scale, a trickle of silt across the beach:
And here are the cliffs above:
Like alpine plants on high mountains, some things manage to root in the chaos. This is bladder campion:
And at the other end of the beach there was a dead dolphin:
Someone stole a few teeth for a charm….
That will have to do for now.