There’s a psychological condition, which was given a name only in recent years, that I am sure I have been feeling for a long time — maybe you have too.
It’s called Psychoterratica and it describes a trauma caused by being disconnected from nature.
I have spent most of my adult life in cities — and this year, locked for months in a small flat surrounded by brick and concrete, I have never felt more separated from the natural world.
In Japan this sadness has been long-recognised: since the 1980s shinrin yoku or ‘forest bathing’ has been a recommended activity.
Well, I have spent the past couple of weeks staying with my mum, her wife and their cockapoo Colin on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. We’ve taken long muddy walks in the woods, along clear pebbled streams and across fields echoing with the ‘distant cries of reapers in the corn’.
On Monday, I nobly volunteered to help dig up a crop of potatoes growing in the garden.
Urbanite that I am, I have never seen potatoes come from anywhere other than a plastic bag — so for my fellow metropols, here’s the process: you thrust a digging fork into the soil just adjacent to where the plant is, and use your foot to get it good and deep; then you wedge the fork back and forth - and instantly the potatoes burst from the soil —out of the fuckin’ ground!.
We reckon we dug up between 60-70 kilograms of the stuff.
I won’t lie, in the middle of this most dreadful of years, where my goals have been reduced to simply “get through it”, it felt incredible to be working like this: sweat on my brow, my blistered hands caked in thick dirt, interacting with the earth in a meaningful way.
Until another Sunday soon,