I’ve been reflecting on the nature of memory lately. The basic themes may set the tone but the small details are what bring thoughts alive. That holds true with the outside world, too.
Take Dorset, for example. I barely knew the county before last month, but it is easy to describe in broad brushstrokes: an erratic quilt of heath, farmland and trees, heaped up high into grassy hills, threaded with tiny lanes and dotted with quaint villages. To the south it is underscored by vivid white: mighty chalk cliffs guarding the channel, crumbling cradle of a thousand dinosaur bones.
The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site, of course. Even away from it, the countryside is refreshingly free from motorway noise.
Zoom in a little, and exploring is flavoured by small details. Sundews are not unique to the south-west, but are intriguing little things. They are carnivorous plants that eat insects.
Another heathland predator is very seldom glimpsed. This is the shed skin of a smooth snake Coronella austriaca, Britain’s rarest reptile.
I have only ever seen one, and that was in western Surrey last year.
Back in Dorset, the flowers are shining.
…or not. The twayblade is one of the green orchids and easily overlooked.
Quiet and reclusive perhaps, but it is just as important ecologically as any of its brighter peers.
Keep looking. Keep remembering.