A few years ago I visited Tyneham on the Dorset coast, whose inhabitants were forced to move during the second world war as the area was wanted for military purposes. The promise to return was never kept and the army is still there. For years there was a campaign to make them release the village but as the still living villagers had become settled elsewhere and awareness grew that there were no caravan sites or much other development in Tyneham so that the army had, like a Hindu deity, preserved as well as destroyed, the campaign lost its passion. It had, however, encouraged more careful care of the old church and school and to allow well shepherded seasonal visitors limited access.
The children’s work from the 1940s at the old school, their detailed observations of the natural surroundings, birds and flowers struck me. They might be regarded as poorly educated with a restricted view of the world but that says as much about us, why we see what we see, as it does about them.
Here in Uppsala, the snow has mainly melted and green is replacing grey. Perhaps there will be more snow but winter has passed its peak. It’s getting lighter and the pace is quickening from the stoic trudge of the worst months. I’m looking forward to resuming my explorations of my natural environment, trying to understand, to penetrate and not dismiss what I see after a cursive glance.
A lot remains of the cultural Uppland but I want to understand the physical environment too, its geology, the landscape and the considerable traces of glaciation, its waterways. High on my list is a visit to Viksta stentorg, the remains of a beach where the sea is now far away. A beach where you could sit and dream without risking being struck in the head by a ball.
With friends and family in several European countries, I may not spend that much time in Sweden but I shall think about my priorities for my Uppland project as well as my other projects. And try to use the weeks that remain until vaccination makes it possible to travel to work on my first post-Covid plan, to decide what I want to read during the coming six months and where I can get hold of this literature on various topics that interest me, what libraries I might use, what I should download to my Kindle, what I should take with me.