Alive & Wild

How are you? I hope you’re doing ok.

Now more than ever I’ve been reconnecting with my passion for being outside and enjoying wildlife. The past month has seen unprecedented restrictions on our movements and how we access the outdoors, and it has emphasised, for me, just how strong and simple my connection to nature is.

The idea of social isolation, of the world shrinking to an intimate and suffocating sphere, is scary to many people – the discourse around “lockdown” is littered with stifling and threatening vocabulary, like “trapped” and “quarantined”.

In my private life I err on the side of introversion (despite chucking words and photographs about online with abandon) so the isolation part I’m ok with. It also turns out that, being the type of person who can pop a squat and stare at a mossy wall for an hour, the world suddenly being smaller offers opportunity and not a cause for distress.

I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with simple joys, some of which I haven’t done since I was a young boy. I’ve been pond dipping, surveying leaf litter and exploring new paths – all within the regulatory “permitted exercise period”, an Orwellian phrase if ever there was one. I reflect on the fact that, without a fascination for rocks, birds, clouds, trees, frogs and moss, my daily exercise allowance might descend into drudgery rather than mini-adventure.

Appropriately enough, George Orwell himself was a naturalist whose writings on animals and agriculture were overshadowed by his reputation for forging dystopia. I think he’d be pleased by my steadfast positivity and curiosity in the face of daily Government briefings and propaganda – Big Brother may be watching, but Mother Nature is there for you too.

If there’s any doubt about the restorative effects of nature, check out this recent report from Natural England which gives some fascinating insight:

“Results suggested that contact with nature was good for people’s general health and nature connectedness is good for their eudaimonic wellbeing (the feeling that life is worthwhile). For example, people with high nature connectedness were 1.7 times more likely to report that their lives were worthwhile than those with low nature connectedness. People who visited nature at least once a week were 1.9 times more likely to also report good general health.”

Fundamentally, I think these times have reminded me that it’s the simple things – the local, the inexpensive, the gentle – that remain accessible and inspirational, no matter what circumstances life throws at us.

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