In autumn last year, I decided to stop paying lip service to nature. Modern life grabs our cheeks and forces our sight to other, shiny, things. Loud adverts, products. More money to keep our bigger houses. More things to fill our lives with a meaning created by somebody else. My whole journey with minimalism started as a means to reconnect with the world around me, to throw off some of those ropes binding me to someone else’s rat race.
Yes, it never went in the way I expected. Creating that space gave my body and mind time to do what it needed, which was crash, burn, then begin to regrow. With new eyes, I see I needed to totally, entirely break. I needed to completely destroy who I was, to start to become who I am.
Nature was the big thing that pulled at my heart and soul. I grew up knowing the names of hundreds of birds. Making food from plants growing in hedgerows was normal. It isn’t until I grew older that I realised not everyone knows the name of everything in a rock pool. But somewhere along the way, I lost this fascination. It was still there, but covered by layers of what I thought was the new normal. Job, money, car, shoes, stress. Sitting on the 14th floor of an office block feeling my heart tearing to feel the breeze whipping outside the windows instead of constant air con. Losing myself in daydreams of walking the distant moors, waiting on the horizon. I threw all of that away and re-built a little foundation to begin finding myself again. I needed to go back to nature, I knew it in my soul.
And so for the last year, I have wandered. I watched as weather grew cooler day by day. I saw the redwings passing through on their migration, filling up on holly berries. I walked the moors in ice, hard ground crunching underfoot, lungs burning. I raised my hands to the sky in rainstorms and celebrated the first snowdrops. I fell more in tune with the seasons, with the old festivals, with the constant rise and fall, comforting familiarity of earth, turning as it has for millennia.
I walked slowly, winter to spring. Step by step, one foot in front of the other, into the long hazy days of summer. Bees and tiny insects and fluffy baby birds. Lying in the heather on the very moors I could see from my high-rise window all those years ago.
I noticed the first buds on the branches, and the day the leaves were their fullest, deepest green. I felt a shift in the air as those leaves began to fade with those last late summer days. I wrote in my log and began to notice the smallest of changes. Smells hinting on the breeze. Changes in behaviour from animals in the woodland. The first berries. The first yellow leaf. A river flowing faster, or slower, or raging from rainfall. Ears pricking up, hearing new birdsong in the familiar chorus, and finally spotting the baby chiffchaffs hopping from branch to branch.
This is what is important. The realisation that ‘nature’ is not something separate from me, after all. Clearing space also gave me silence to begin to listen. My year walking slowly has led me back onto a path I thought I’d lost. I won’t measure in years any more, but I will carry on more slowly, gently, noticing what it’s like to be a human treading this earth. I’m happy with my little life and my little place here, in this time, in this moment. It’s taken a lot to get to this space…but as I saunter off into the distance, I am feeling the joy of connection. Connection to those before me, to what is to come, to the entire complex web that weaves its way over, under and through this tiny planet we call home.
The Biotime Log – I have this lovely log that has space to record things you notice each day, over a number of years.
Hawthorn Jelly recipe from Eatweeds (haws are ready now – Early Oct!)
Trees eat us all – beautiful song by Charlie McGee of Formidable Vegetable, in tribute to Bill Mollison. Well worth listening to the lyrics.