While we were walking in the Lake District [see my post ‘Gone Walking’ on April 19th, 2017] I read ‘The Shepherd’s Life’ by James Rebank. Rebank describes how his flock is hefted to the land. ‘Heft’ is a word used in Northern England and Scotland, and means to become accustomed and attached to an area of pasture. In our modern society people tend to become accustomed and attached to cities. A few weeks earlier Nilanjana Roy, writing in the FT Weekend on April 8/9, wrote about the growing belief that national identity is an outdated and insufficient concept, whereas cities reflect the common identities of their inhabitants and have been home to peoples of diverse origin and belief for centuries. Many of us who travel frequently have a map in our heads of cities in which we feel comfortable, happy to return, accustomed or ‘hefted’. Roy calls it ‘a map of belonging’ – the cities that your spirit chimes with the most. Mine would probably include Liverpool, Ottawa, Santa Fe and Taipei [see my posts entitled ‘Out and about‘ and ‘Crash in Taipei: an engineer’s travelogue‘ on December 7th, 2016 and November 19th, 2o14 respectively]. To which cities do you feel ‘hefted’?
James Rebank, The Shepherd’s Life, Penguin, 2016.
Nilanjana Roy, How cities reject the insularity of nationalism, Financial Times, 8/9 April 2017.
Amsterdam, the only city of the Netherlands but is is just overcrowded.
San Francisco, Vancouver, New Orleans and Paris
But you yourself periodically feel the need to flee the city to replenish your soul, nourish your spirit, or liberate your mind, so do cities rob or deprive us of nourishment as well. This time you come home from a rural (?) excursion to blog about cities! I’m not being critical, just observing a bit of paradox.