What We Forget

21st February 2017
On nights like these, our house whistles and howls, it leaks and it whines. Voices are given to all the doors. There’s a skirting board that sounds like tortured mice.

Wind. Endless wind. Funnelled through the narrow avenue of our dale and hitting our high-lying house. The shelter belt I’ve planted hasn’t risen up yet, so we’re at the mercy of its music tonight.

My eldest daughter sleeps in the room I had as a child. Putting her to bed, I recognise the same sound coming through her door that I listened to for so many years. I caught myself saying I hoped it wouldn’t disturb her sleep. It’s one of those endless things I catch myself saying as a parent – hurry up, do you have to jump in every puddle, if you sit on that you’ll get wet.

I’d forgotten how much I loved windy nights in Nidderdale when I was her age. Family aside, if I could put my earlier childhood memories onto one hand, there’d be tree climbing, Saturday night chocolate, a path through a cornfield, Christmas eve and listening to the wind.

How much do we let pass us by as adults? How much do we invent to make up for it?

I’m always struck by the how-to nature of some lifestyle magazines. Creating the perfect soup, the essential walk in the wood, crafting tips – you know what I mean. I enjoy reading them, but they so often seem like a fantasy experience – not quite true stories to make us feel not quite so good about ourselves.

My daughter has none of the stresses of parenthood. She can lie in bed and enjoy listening to the wind, as I used to do. She can stumble about outside, not bothering about having to be somewhere, or having to clean something afterwards. Her conscience is clear and her imagination is open to the elements.

Our natural world is diminishing, is under attack from all sides. Nature makes everything immeasurably richer and it shouldn’t take a gale to remind me what I once knew so clearly.

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