A Landscape Drear

15 Dec

Congratulations!  We’ve all made it beyond the first chapter of The Return of the Native!  That’s no small feat, my friends.  Once I finished that wordy setting I took all of Hardy’s lavish descriptions of the heath and did what every self-respecting reader of the 21st century would do:  I Googled it.

I needed to see a heath.  Yes, Hardy, I get that it’s a dark place.  I even get that it’s a really dark place.  Oh, and ancient, and dismal, and a landscape for thinkers and philosophers and realists.  And did I mention that you mentioned that it was dark?

But what exactly is a heath?  What does it look like?  Well, first let’s establish what it is not in Thomas Hardy’s world.

Despite Google Images best intentions, it is not this guy:

That was just his first name.

And gladly the search engine didn’t pull up a picture of my college boyfriend (and neither will I) but Heath was just his last name, and gladly that whole thing ended before it could become mine as well.  He wasn’t the subject of this relationship drama.

Nor is Thomas Hardy talking about this street that you might stumble upon if you’re making your way to our house.

Heath Street

Although, I’m not above mentioning that there’s a heath in our neighborhood.

And to my great disappointment, Thomas is not lacing his novel with this chocolate toffee delight.

So, is this what he’s trying to describe for an entire chapter?

Nebraska Heath

Nope!  Gotcha!  This is actually a picture of the landscape in northern Nebraska.  You see, when I started looking at images of heaths online many of them reminded me of my homeland, where the sandhills become scrubby with cedars, and the rough, yet sandy terrain buckles against cultivation.  It is sparsely populated and no friend to strangers.  Yet the locals know it’s crevices, dunes, bushes and shadows far better than any image on Google Earth.

So part of me feels at home upon Hardy’s Egdon, but at the same time, very cognizant that I am just an observer here, the sandhills are my home.


Posted by on December 15, 2012 in The Return of the Native


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7 responses to “A Landscape Drear

  1. Jeannette

    December 15, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Well, of the above things the heath is NOT, at least one of them is “easy on the eyes.” And it’s not NE. 🙂

    • Christina Joy

      December 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      I can only assume you’re talking about the chocolate.

  2. Jeannette

    December 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Chocolate is not on my Ledger today…

    • Christina Joy

      December 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      SOL (it’s like LOL, only with snorting)

  3. Amy Werner

    December 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I have been so encouraged by reading your blog. You ladies are great. And now I’ve learned, as it turns out, that I live in the same city as Christina Joy. Wondering do you ladies ever meet in person or is this just an online group? I’m part of a wonderful Well Educated Mind reading group that meets every other month or so and we are just getting into The Return of the Native.

    Also wondering if any of you have listened to Alan Rickman’s recording of The Return of the Native?

    • Christine

      December 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Alan Rickman does a recording of The Return of the Native?! Rats! Now I’m almost sorry that I’ve already finished the book.

    • Christina Joy

      December 17, 2012 at 9:40 am

      No way! GR has two WEM groups!? And we’re both on ROTN!? Unbelievable. We must know more. We do meet in person at the end of every book (and several times a week since we’re all friends, but officially to wrap-up each book as well.)

      I have an audiobook copy of the book on hold at the library, but I’m not sure who recorded it.


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