Anthropologist Tim Ingold (2011) wonders if we have become so accustomed in a visual culture to encountering environment through books, film, photographs, and so on, that we are “inclined to forget that the environment is, in the first place, a world we live in, and not a world we look at.” (95) This clip from my conversation with Shirley demonstrates that, while we might not always be consciously thinking of how we live in an environment, we are intimately aware of its presence as a force in our lives. Shirley recognizes that the environments of Manitoba and Ireland both require particular responses. Mosquitoes in Manitoba are combated with bug spray, harsh winters in the prairies are battled with layers, and constant rain is faced with a good rain coat. We cannot become completely unaware of the environment as “a world we live in” because we have to change our behaviour in order to move through it (as Shirley explains, “You just have to. […] If you don’t, like, okay, lay down and die.”)
These everyday responses to our environment and regular movements through place build a familiarity with a landscape and its elements. Shirley’s discussion gestures to the process of dealing with the emotions of migration related to old and new environments. Identity and feelings of belonging are connected to the ways in which we respond to the landscapes and weathers we find ourselves inhabiting.
Photo: Manitoba. Courtesy of Suzie Fisher.