I almost submitted an application for some work with a rather lovely little social enterprise called Kindlewoods CIC this week. It seems they provide opportunities for people to enjoy woodlands and forests to improve their wellbeing, learning the kind of skills that help maintain these special places as they go. I really, really like the ethos behind the company, but on reflection, it's not quite where my skills lie (I'm talking accountancy things here. I can cobble as necessary but it's definitely not something I enjoy!) The application involved the usual CV and cover letter, but I was also asked to describe what I loved about nature. Now there's a question!
I know how I feel when I'm in a natural surrounding - the kind of uplifting emotions that make your heart feel like it might burst from your chest. And I know how incredibly beneficial it can be for others. But what I love? That was an awful lot more difficult and it sent my mind wandering in all sorts of directions.
In the end, I chose to represent my answer with the rather unprepossessing picture above, together with a detailed description of exactly what it shows. Here goes:
"I walk a lot, and it’s difficult to explain sometimes, particularly when I’m soaked to the bone, tired and freezing cold, why I make this choice and leave my car behind on the drive.
I walk pretty much the same route every day, and part of it takes me down the approach to Middlesbrough’s only Grade 1 listed building, Acklam Hall. The pathway, lined with limes and then cedars, is known locally as ‘The Avenue of Trees’ and is popular with dog walkers and runners those, like me, that wish to divert from the main roads, especially during the rush hour commute.
When I reach this section, my shoulders physically uncurl and my breath becomes slower, almost as if every muscle is starting to finally relax. I often stop for a moment of solitude and to escape the stresses of a busy morning, basking in the sounds of the trees around me. I have seen my only Treecreeper here (part of a little crowd of admirers that collected around the base of the trunk!), heard several spotted woodpeckers and the ‘twit’ of a lonely tawny owl, and I know exactly where the secret wild greengage is and when its fruits are at its best!
The beauty of this space frequently stops me dead in my tracks, but I am not sharing a photo of something that would be typically ‘beautiful.’
At the exit from the Avenue is an old, iron kissing gate, from which walkers step onto recently laid Tarmac from muddy earth. For several weeks I noticed that a small part of the Tarmac was starting to bulge and every time I passed, it became a little more noticeable, like something was surging from the earth beneath and trying to escape!
And then one day, it happened. The secret was out! The escapee was a crop of parasol mushrooms, misshapen by their ordeal, but finally free. Not pretty but the perfect embodiment of the power of nature, its capacity to override the manmade and defy obstacles hindering its way.
To me, this rather unattractive photo is everything I love about nature – it won’t be beaten. It will take our artificial landscapes and revert them to exactly what they should be – full of life in all its tenacious glory!"
Incidentally, the banner image to this page was taken only a few feet away, and stunning though it is, it still doesn't quite convey the same message. Sometimes I guess it's the story that's the important bit.
So that's me done. Now you. What do you actually love about nature?!
Treading Lightly is simple living, within your means and the means of the planet, and making a minimal impact on the Earth. Find out more here about Catherine, of Barefoot Solutions, does this from day to day.