Have you come across the term 'hefted'?
That's hefted as in relation, usually, to sheep in the uplands of Northern England.
My friend, writer Robert Macfarlane, described it thus in his 'word of the day' Tweet a while back:
Or, to quote from The English Lake District World Heritage Site webpage:
Hefted sheep have a tendency to stay together in the same group and on the same local area of fell (the heft or heaf) throughout their lives. These traits are passed down from the ewe to her lambs. The sheep are acclimatised to a particular terrain, weather conditions and diseases that prevail in the area. They are familiar with the ways to find shelter and, at gathering (bringing sheep down from the fells) times, the way to the farmstead and back to their grazing ground.
Why bring this up? I hear you ask.
Well, after nearly a year, on and off (mostly on), of being locked down in Aberdeen, I am beginning to feel 'hefted' to the local terrain.
It is true that I live with Gail in the heart of Scotland's third biggest city, I do not roam free on a Lake District fell, but the principal of being attached to one's territory, through knowing it intimately, still applies.
Within a three mile radius of our home, I doubt there is now a street, alleyway, track or footpath, a park, public garden, beach or wood, which I have not walked/trotted/bounced along, or sniffed or marked, at some point in the last few months.
I know exactly which side of Duthie Park is most subject to chilly winds, and where the ice still lies in wait for the unwary on an otherwise frost-free day.
I can tell at first sniff when a strange pup has marked one of the trees in our street.
If a gale is blowing, I know better than to venture down to the seashore, as the waves can be scary and the sand gets in your eyes.
There is a gently sloping river beach just along from the park, and this water-averse terrier has learned it is the safe place to go for a paddle on a warm day. (We don't do 'hot' here in Aberdeen.)
If the river is high, experience has taught me that the route under the Bridge of Dee archway on the northern side will not be passable.
We have 'winter paths', where the trees stripped of leaves afford fine views over the city, and 'summer paths' where wild flowers flourish and there is shade a-plenty.
Certain trails are wonderfully muddy after rain, and if my luck is in, Gail forgets to avoid these.
I can tell you where, in the harbour area, you are at greatest danger of being splattered with seagull droppings...
I choose to stay away from those roads I know are particularly busy - my puppyhood fear of noisy lorries thundering past has abated over the years, but deep down persists.
I could map the distribution of dog breeds throughout the city - Westies and 'Doodle' types here, Retrievers and Spaniels there, Staffies and Rottweilers elsewhere.
Finally, I can find my way home, from each and every direction, and once inside the house, I will detect the sound of my food bowl being filled even if I'm two flights of stairs up from the kitchen...
Oh and by the way, I am much smarter than a sheep!