In his book Arctic Dreams, the American author Barry Lopez writes:
"...language is not something man imposes on the land. It evolves in his conversation with the land - in testing the sea ice with the toe of a kamik, in the eating of a wild berry...A long-lived inquiry produces a discriminating language. The very order of the language, the ecology of its sounds and thoughts, derives from the mind's intercourse with the landscape."
As I walked to work today, I wondered about the intercourse of minds with the landscape in my own community, and the effect this may have on our language and therefore on our perception of our own environment. (Incidentally, the German word Umwelt, meaning 'environment' but which I translate literally as 'world around oneself' helps me understand better what we mean by 'environment').
If we're not letting our minds interact, study, perceive the landscape, what happens?
It makes me wonder whether it's a vicious cycle. The less time we spend outside, the less we understand; the more language we lose with which to describe our landscape and so more estranged we become from the natural world around us.
Perhaps today, then, I'd advocate spending just a little more time outside, looking, listening and letting our minds explore.