Inspired by a walk the children and I took on Monday and my brief encounter with a butterfly on Tuesday, I had at go at writing haiku (as suggested in an email from the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust).
Sitting by the pond. Tadpoles swim, dragonflies speed. Quick snacks for the ducks.
Pink blossom now brown. Goose-grass crown stuck to my hair. A sparkling moment.
Cow parsley flowers. You run down the small green hill. I am eight years old.
Secret wild meadow. Branches and blossom our roof. My ideal home – tea?
Holly blue, surprise! Too fast for my camera. Butterfly catcher.
Today is the first day of 30 Days Wild organised by The Wildlife Trusts. We’ve done this for the last two years and it’s definitely helped our lives become wilder!
You can read about 2017’s adventures here and last year’s here!
If you want to take part, visit 30 Days Wild to sign up and receive a pack. Although the pack really is not necessary! It helps with ideas but there’s also an app with suggestions. The idea is to do something ‘wild’ each day in June – in the past we have with child-like fascination marvelled at snails, observed ants and studied flowers.
Our activity for today was finding some flowers (I think my neighbour would call them weeds!) in the garden and putting them in a flower press.
I don’t have plans for the rest of the month except for one – I want to get outside during my lunch break!
Since reading Just Living last year, I have started a journey of discovering the beauty of the natural world – and the harm that we are causing it.
Last June, Small Boy, Little Miss and I took part in 30 Days Wild. I recently reread my blog post on it and was struck by how something that was on the periphery of my conscious thought has become a central part of who I am.
‘But I had learned to see another wildness, to which I had once been blind: the wildness of natural life, the sheer force of ongoing organic existence, , vigorous and chaotic. This wildness was not about asperity, but about luxuriance, vitality, fun.
The weed thrusting through a crack in the pavement, the tree root impudently cracking a carapace of tarmac: these were wild signs, as much as the storm wave and the snowflake.
There was as much to be learned in an acre of woodland on a city’s fringe as on the shattered summit of Ben Hope: this was what Roger [his mentor and friend] had taught me – and what Lily [his young daughter] did not yet need to be taught.
It was something most people forgot as they grew into adults.‘ Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places, p.316
This ‘wildness of natural life’ – ties in so well with the ethos of 30 Days Wild. Last year, we spent two weeks in the Lakes during June with nature on our doorstep. I had been unsure how we would find 30 wild activities this year when at home in our post-war housing estate on the outskirts of the outskirts of London. But that’s the point of 30 Days Wild. It’s there. We just need to look.
Today we marvelled at a snail speedily slithering over our watering can – look carefully and you can see its poo!
We watched one of the residents of our bug hotel, an ant, carry a small dead fly that had been caught in a web. One wing with its intricate lace pattern remained captured in the spider’s trap. Woodlice scurried away when we lifted up last year’s decaying leaves.
Yesterday, we walked, picking up litter on the way, to our nearest nature reserve – an area of wilderness reserved for bees, butterflies and brambles – and played with sticky goose grass.
June, and so our 30 Days Wild, did however begin on another Family Pilgrim camping trip. The campsite was on the edge of a wood and each morning a resident cuckoo would call for hours. I’d never heard a cuckoo before and couldn’t believe my ears at first. We made Stick Man out of sticks, wandered in the woods and when it rained and we sheltered inside, I drew a duck!
I part-climbed a silver birch tree, walked barefoot on the grass and created daisy chains for the children. We found over 20 cabbage white caterpillars and pretended a tree (species unknown!) was a house.
You might not want to take part in 30 Days Wild this year but maybe you could take a little bit of time to discover wildlife and wild places on your doorstep.
Ruth Valerio writes in Just Living about ‘nature-deficit disorder’ – a term coined by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, which I am now reading (bought from an independent book shop – I’ve been Amazon-free since 10 April!).
‘The impact of [this] lack of connection with the outdoors has been memorably summed up by Richard Louv in his phrase “nature-deficit disorder”. We are the poorer where we are separated from the natural world, and it impacts us on all levels: psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually.” (p.7 Just Living)
There’s something so beautiful watching children enjoy nature: the joy and wonder of Little Miss as she explores grass or touches a flower for the first time. Small Boy’s excitement as he hurtles down the stairs to get a better look at a robin on the fence. When do we become blasé about the wild around us?
My heart is growing softer and more childlike towards the natural world. I found myself welling up watching Sammy the Turtle and rescued a snail from the hot pavement earlier this week. (I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by snails! – did you know they’re omnivores and can move at 1.3cm per second?)
Ecological concern in one of the seven areas of practical response Ruth Valerio focuses in on the third section of Just Living. It’s the area where I have the most to grow as in common with many evangelical Christians, environmentalism as a ’cause’ has been a lower priority. I’m learning how this view is erroneous: God wants me to care for and delight in all he has created.
I’m a list-maker and so here’s my next activity list:
Subscribe to a magazine for a year such as BBC Countryfile with the aim of developing ecological literacy (I’ve already done this for free by using Tesco vouchers)
Make a bug hotel
Take a reusable coffee cup out with me
Visit the butterflies at the Natural History Museum with Small Boy and Little Miss
I’ve been shocked to discover that every straw I’ve ever used and every toothbrush I’ve ever had still exists – and I don’t just mean the collection in our shed saved for cleaning bikes. It takes 200 years for a straw to decompose and many of them find their way into the ocean. Read more about the problem of plastic debris in our oceans.
Buy loose leaf tea (there’s plastic in tea bags!) Who knew?!
Begin the zero waste journey
I’m also going to:
Get outside more and notice the wildlife around me
Learn about the theology of caring for creation
As I discover more about living justly, I realise there is always more that could be done and it’s so easy to feel a failure, or conversely feel smug or even judgmental. But living in grace (there’s nothing I can do to earn God’s love and nothing I can do to make him love me less) means neither polarity is accurate. I don’t have to try to earn love or Divine Eco-points – which can be cashed in at a later date for a blessing of my choice. Instead I choose to live gratefully, generously and with a global perspective, in the reality of God’s grace, neither berating nor congratulating myself.
So right now I’m going to step away from my computer, pick up my Bible and go and sit outside.