I’ve started documenting a daily connection with nature over on the OUTSIDER Instagram account (#dailyconnectionwithnature). It’s not always going to be something huge and life-changing but it is about pausing at least once a day to immerse in nature, and by taking time to record these moments I’m encouraged to meditate more on what these connections might mean.
As we already walk the dogs in the woods every day this isn’t about that, it’s about exploring one step further, making sure I’ve taken time to really think about a specific connection and where it might lead. I’ve already begun to notice that by being open to, and listening out for, these experiences, I’m opening my heart in myriad ways.
Yesterday morning’s swim in the river Usk was delicious. I was tired, it was early and so I couldn’t be bothered but the water was cool and calming to swim in. A homeless man watched from nearby while drinking cider. We chatted about the river when I was finished swimming, and I made him cheese and pickle sandwiches from the van. It’s not a huge thing but I believe that by opening myself to the river I opened myself to other possibilities for giving (it’s also during this swim that I had the idea for documenting these daily connections so it’s something I need to follow).
That evening we planted three raspberry bushes outside our grandson’s front door as they’re his favourite fruit and I hope they’ll remind him of us when we’re away on the road. While there we spent time connecting with extended family members who we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye with, so that what started out as a simple thirty minute planting session turned into a lovely couple of hours.
Today I’m drawn to the mint plant (as on so many days). Mint is wonderful for the digestion. It grows like a weed with brilliant tenacity, its sharp, bright smell exciting the nostrils from spring to autumn. Drinking mint tea with fresh leaves cut from my lovely poet friend Chris Kinsey’s garden, I’m reminded of the generosity of her friendship. I’m also increasingly interested in the ways in which we connect with plants and our surroundings through our stomachs and am reminded of this as I’m tending the young mint plant gifted by friend and Plant Teacher, Mark Watson.
A memory returns, of sitting in his garden a few weeks ago with a chatter of forget-me-knots: as they watch us, the conversation turns to gardening and the difficulty in deciding what to let thrive and what to clear out, how a gardener makes these decisions and whether it is ever our right to play god in this way. I tell Mark that I’m reminded of the Stanford Prison Experiment that split a group into prisoners and prison wardens and the ways this shift in the balance changed some of the people given positions of power into sadists while the prisoners became subdued and extremely stressed. I begin to wonder if this is the way the natural world views humans and our ‘stewardship’ of her. This in turn brings back the memory of a poem written last autumn, as the mint plant at our old house was dying I sat with her and was gifted these words: