Upping Sticks

Jason // August 18 // 24 Comments
I thought I’d be here ‘til the day I died.

Anglezarke was my home, always had been, always would be. It’s the home of my parents, my mum’s parents, her mum’s parents and so on for at least seven generations.

I’ve wandered those meadows and moors since boyhood. My parents brought me here as a toddler and continued that bonding. Red River, Leadmine Valley, Cat’s Grave, Haddock Fold, The Quarry… all came alive in my childhood memory and carved their names into my psyche.

Adult me knew every corner from horizon to horizon. I knew where the Roe Deer were, when the Frogs would spawn, the locations of the Fox earths, when to expect the Swifts back. On my almost daily wanders in my place I knew if a branch had fallen, where the deer had slept that night and when the flowers would bloom. It was as if my very being was hardwired to Anglezarke. We shared so much. Perhaps I was made of Anglezarke.

This seemed normal to me as it was all I’d every known, this deep connection that thrummed through my senses, keeping me informed of the goings on of ‘my’ countryside. In reality though it wasn’t my countryside - I was its human. It claimed me. Anglezarke owned a big part of me.

A Winter Solstice move

When we moved away on Winter Solstice 2022 I looked forward to forming a new bond with Silverdale. However I thought I’d grieve the transition from an old familiar landscape that spoke to me. In reality that sadness never landed. The call of the new held me. The novelty of stepping out of our new front door and not being blasted by the roar of the M61 was welcomed.

The move away was necessary. We needed more room and I needed to be away from that constant grind of the motorway which was beginning to really mess with my head and my hearing. I’d always had a love for Silverdale so we embraced an opportunity when it presented itself and relocated to a lovely Edwardian house minutes from Morecambe Bay. This place really does have it all - coast, ancient woodlands, hidden meadows, craggy fells, wetlands and more nature reserves than I can keep a count of.

However despite the rampant beauty, the glut of biodiversity, I find myself adrift. Lost in a sea of beauty and enchantment. I’ve begun to mourn my old places and not yet found my regular haunts. So I have work to do. Having said this I don’t for a moment regret the move, in so many ways it’s the best thing we’ve done and I know I’ll find a kind of nurture here. However I’m also beginning to see the depth of the connection I have with Anglezarke and to know just how rare it is. I had become naive in my familiarity. I’d failed to recognise the enduring specialness of my link with the place.

Passing strangers

And now I need to find a way to nurture a link to a new land, one that I thought I knew from my regular visits only to realise we were strangers to each other. Passing strangers, but strangers nonetheless. This brings to mind thoughts of belonging which is a topic I’ve discussed with friends recently. So many of our community feel a lack of belonging, an adriftness that cannot be easily shaken. Not a sadness as such, more a distant echo call that speaks of something deeper. An ancestral connection with place maybe. And now I am beginning to get a sense of that despite a growing, immersive love for this richly beautiful area.

What am I to do? Put down my roots? We are doing that with the community here and it’s quite something. Being accepted and welcomed into the village is heartening but I find I need more. For me to belong I need something else that even a close knit community cannot deliver. This morning as I roam around the wood pastures and gaze over the bird strewn mudflats I think I’ve found what I need.

Ivy and Oak

Putting down my roots is absolutely a part of the process but I need the land to claim me. I need to feel this landscape wrap itself around me like Ivy around an old Oak. I need to be cloaked in Silverdale, to wear the limestone boned fells and to let the waters of the Bay seep into my veins. This is a process I’ve never had to think about as Anglezarke was a part of me before I was even born. It ran in the blood of my ancestors from times long ago and we were crafted together as a fusion of nature.

It’s now time to do the work, walk the rituals, call in the spirit of the place, become an indweller and a frequent roamer. One day, surely the place will reach out with hoary tendrils and return my endeavours and entreaties so that we may dance the dance of homecoming. Maybe I will never have the depth of belonging that I have with Anglezarke, not in this lifetime, but I can hope to have a relationship beyond the current dislocation.

I have a plan. This will take time, but I’m coming home to Silverdale. I’m finding home, here, in this woody, muddy, craggy country, knowing that one day it will claim me. I just have to do the work. I need to be out here, creating footprints, catching photos, sharing the stories and weaving my life into the land.

I’m documenting my journey home as it feels important to share my process. If you’d like to come along for the adventure tell me where to send the occasional Earthlight email in the box below. Maybe you too would like to belong that bit more to your place. Perhaps we can find our way home together.

  • Dear Jason, this is such a beautiful and heartfelt essay that gloriously communicates your longings and grief. Having left my 40 year homeland in Alaska to move to the north of England, quite near Anglezarke, I understand profoundly. First I can assure you that Anglezarke will forever be part of your identity. You will grieve your partially lost intimacy with it but you will carry it in your heart and cells and psyche forever. As for your connection to your new home in Silverdale, I believe it will be like falling in love; getting to know it, delighting in new discoveries, reveling in your time together. If it is work, it is joyous work. It does take time but I know for certain that you will find the magic in the journey. All the best and thank you for sharing it!

    • Thank you for this Melanie. Yes, Anglezarke will always be with me, and I shall visit now and again. This new land is overwhelmingly beautiful and I am looking forward to what it has to offer.

  • Jason I hear you. I only know from my own experiences, though, exactly what it means to be somewhere that isn’t what runs through your veins. Before I found the Way of The Buzzard, and had moved house and indeed county and parts of the country a few times, I always knew that I had to find my ‘safe space’ to be comfortable where I ended up.I couldn’t rest until I had found that space , however small, in which my soul felt relaxed and at home. Where I could breathe and feel safe and yes , at home, and be me. That place to go to that would hold and support me, know me and not mind who I was, without me uttering a word. That knowing, of being at one with a place. Feeling safe and held. A tree, a stream, some stones, a view, even moss on a fence… to hold me safe. You will be shown, and held, and there will be rejoicing. And there will be a long sigh, and your special place will seep into your bones, and the spirits of the place will welcome you with tenderness as you share a mutual welcome of respect and caring 🤗 It will be an honour and so special to hear and share your homecoming, to the new home x

    • A beautiful reply Anny, your words touch me deeply and have given me clarity as to my own feelings over many years….thank you!

    • Thank you for this Anny. I look forward to that deep knowing with this landscape and know I will get there. Looking forward to sharing my journey here. x

  • It’s very honest of you to share such heartfelt connection with the land. I hear you and feel the same since I left my Welsh roots to live in England. I knew every blade of grass, every tree, where the fish hid on rainy days on my daily walks in Mid Wales. 20 years I’ve been living in England and I’m still trying to find my connection with it. But I will keep trying and my daily walks do help, so thank you for sharing your experience with change and I look forward to hearing more. Very inspiring.

    • Thank you Jacinta. 20 years! Wow. What a journey you’re on. We can do this can’t we. It will take some time but we will get there eventually.

  • Oh my goodness dear Jason….so amazing to read this today, and the deeply moving comments posted under it….I have lived over 40 years in another country and now at 67 realise it is the missing of my homeland that has made me unwell over all these years; even though it has been kind to me I have never made it mine….I have never really felt relaxed and at home…perhaps now that I realise this I can finally do the work as you say, and find the peace I so desperately need. I look forward to sharing your journey and thank you, and those who have replied here, for reaching out….

    • Thank you for your kind comment Michelle. 40 years! I think so many folk never realise the reason for the disconnect so we are well on the way to healing with the medicine of the land I think. I’ll be sharing my thoughts as I wander through the land and will see where it leads.

  • Dear Jason
    Walk in Beauty.. Where ever you roam.
    How can the earth, each landcape not love you when you care so much.

    The earth is all sacred, every blade of grass and even under the roads the threads of fungi join us and all the lands on our wonderful 🌍
    You are called to make such deep connections and share with us all
    Thank you MARY 🌸

  • What insight and inspiration your words offer.
    It makes a great deal of sense to me and speaks to my own sense of ‘belonging’. I have had the question ‘Where do I belong?’ in my mind for a few months now. I thought I would make the question a portal into exploring just that- where DO I belong? Where and what, calls to me, makes sense to me, accepts me. I love how you describe the land claiming you, of the connection, of being Anglezarke and now of putting down roots. So earthy and real.
    I realise that we live on Earth but not always with, or as, Earth – it can be easy to float away from all that really matters while thinking we’re doing okay and have all the answers. I don’t even know the questions, yet.
    Your wisdom and self-exploration create the opportunity for others to do the same. Thank you.

  • How glibly we speak of Mother Earth! But it helps me to know that wherever I am on this planet, it is the same Earth. And we need to be confident we can reach out and connect to our lovely Earth wherever we are. BUT to find a “Trysting Place” is different and that is what I perceive you are after in Silverdale. A special and intimate relationship with your local land. A best friend who accepts you whatever the mood and whatever the weather. I think this is where we connect and establish relationship with the local “Elemental” or local “Elementals”. And it becomes very personal. When we reach out strongly with intention to our local Spirits of the Land around us, we can fall in love with them. And they with us. So I talk to them and tell them how lovely they are be it trees or flowers herbs or rock. Out loud. (Joggers and cyclists that catch me unawares must think me mad as they come! Never mind!!) i see the land in a new way and it becomes familiar in detail. Then it becomes home. I have got this best with my garden and it is happening down at the allotment where I plough my love into the soil and tend the produce, trees and hedges, with love.

    • Susie, I was smiling as I read your words ‘I talk to them and tell them how lovely they are ‘, as I do exactly the same when I’m out walking. In fact sometimes I sing to them and the cows that graze the marshlands on the coast where I live (Southport). I seem to have a special bond with Hawthorne. This morning I felt some very gentle and deep love reach out to me from the one I was talking to. It understood something of me. The tears flowed, taking me by surprise. I love the idea of ploughing your love into the soil. You will get it back 10-fold in the produce that the soil nurtures and grows. x

    • I love the poetry in your words here Susie. Thank you. And yes, this is my search, my path and my intention. The land around Silverdale is so different from how I imagined it would be. Regular visits don’t at all compare to living here. So, daily, slowly, we shall see what forms between us. And I shall keep reporting in.

  • This is interesting, Jason. We retired to mid Wales 17 years ago having lived in the soithwest. For me, the land blackened its grip on me when I returned to the South West to visit frirnds, and went on search of my old haunts. They were different from my memories, and I realised that the land and I had both moved on and changed, and that realisation strengthened my connection and feelings of home with Wales and loosened the ties with my former haunts. I hope your search for your connection is as successful.

    • Thank you for this insight Pam, it’s interesting to hear of your experience with the land. I’m sure I’ll continue to build my connection here as I wander the landscapes.

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    About the Author Jason

    Jason follows his lifelong vocation as a countryside photographer who tries to catch the spirit of the places he visits. After decades working as a professional editorial photographer he now focuses much of his time on conceptual fine art photography, visual storytelling and in aiding others to follow their creative calling.

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