THE WHITE HARE is a novel about the deep connection between landscape and people and how we often lose touch with the things that matter. Two damaged women and a child find themselves making a new life in a remote Cornish valley that is full of secrets … and gifts.

Jane Johnson, The White Hare

Jane Johnson, The White Hare

When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, my family moved a lot from one coastal village to another. New home, new school, new people to get to know: it was a lot for a shy child to handle. The way I managed the anxieties associated with these moves was basically to go feral and immerse myself in my new surroundings.

Parenting was different then: we were encouraged to run wild, put out of the door in the morning and not expected home till tea-time. I would explore for hours the shingle beaches, shaded woodlands, and rather more alarmingly, the rocky cliffs.

Once I felt I had established a connection with my new place and become familiar with the birds and flowers, the smells and geography, I felt – quite literally – grounded and safe. In hindsight, that was a good instinct. We have lost so much of that connection with wild places, and so many of us live in an urban environment where it feels as if there is no natural world to connect with. But even time spent in the green space of a small park can be beneficial.

Here's my prescription for some natural medicine:

1. Find somewhere quiet to sit outdoors where you feel safe and comfortable.

2. Take a deep breath, right into the belly, hold it, then exhale, several times.

3. Take note of your surroundings as you breathe. See how the sun filters through the leaves; observe the colours of the flowers and foliage; even the iridescent feathers on a pigeon’s neck are beautiful.

4. Now close your eyes and listen. What can you hear? As I write this, I am sitting on my allotment. I am aware of cars rumbling in the distance, but once I tune them out, all I can hear is the rhythmic lapping of waves on the shore below and dunnocks singing in the trees.

5. What can you smell? Scent is such an evocative sense, more powerful even than vision, and it plays a key part in my novel.

6. Now think of yourself within this big sensory map you’re making. There you are, right in the middle of your own world. The world. Everyone’s world. But perceived through your own unique senses.

7. Open your eyes again. Here you are: alive in the world at this moment in time. Connected to everything. Part of a miracle.

Nature can be wonderfully healing. It can take you out of yourself, away from your problems, then return you to yourself, cleansed and refreshed, if you let it. Just open your senses and make it yours.

Jane Johnson is the author of The White Hare, published by Apollo Fiction [an imprint of Head of Zeus] on the 23rd June.