Earlier this week I went to sign all the papers and collect the keys for my new home. Within a couple of minutes walk is a small country park. As I was early for my appointment and feeling a bit stressed I decided to take a look at this small park. There was a small pond with a few reeds and irises around it and a man sitting quietly fishing. There were several seats so I sat down for a while listening to the most wonderful birdsong and enjoying the peace and the sunshine.
After a while I decided to explore the paths I could see. One went back down into a street while another one wound upwards through the trees. I took this upward path noticing the blossom on the trees and the wild flowers. It was not long before I had to return for my appointment but that short break in nature had destressed me. I know I will be there often to sit and enjoy the natural world around me.
I am sure that we all feel stressed at times and science is now proving that being out in nature can help us and is beneficial for our health. I hope you know places like the one I have found and use them for reflection and replenishment. I am adding a couple of photos to give you some idea of what the park is like.
Since moving back home I have been revisiting some of my favourite places. Some are long gone of course as this is a large area of industry and housing. But some are still there and there are also many new places to go and explore when I have the time. Derelict wasteland from industry which is now gone has often been turned into parkland.
One of the places I used to visit with my children is still there and I go there often but I have found another place to go which has exceeded my expectations. The Trentham Estate is a large commercial operation designed to attract tourists and also has a shopping village. But it is a place that never ceases to make me happy as I explore it. There is a large lake around a mile in length, there are historic gardens, woodlands and meadows, and so many places to hide from the crowds. Many things have impressed me, the way the old trees that have fallen are used from sculpture, the newly planted meadow areas and the wild flower gardens. Even the children’s area blends in with the land itself.
I have found small areas right by the lake where I can sit and watch the birds on the lake and the dragonflies and butterflies flitting around. I can walk through the woodland and see the sculptures. Then there are the fairies, a series, now sixteen in all, who sit around the estate. They are wire sculptures and can be found in unusual places. I have not yet found them all. But the peace of the lake and the ever changing sky are something I love to see. Each visit is a joy and like many others I purchased an annual ticket as the only day the estate is closed is Christmas Day.
The river runs alongside the lake and there are otters here but I have not seen them yet. There is a hide where you can sit and wait for them to appear. There are many varieties of ducks as well as swans and herons. A small island is the home for the herons. For me this is a wonderful experience enabling me to be at one with the landscape around me and I treasure it. I hope it will be there for ever.
I do a lot of walking; this is the rambling part of this blog. I am still walking with a crutch but I do get around and see some lovely parts of my area. There are lots of open spaces and places to walk where you see a lot of people dog walking. But the main problem is not the dogs or their owners.
Every Saturday and Sunday morning the open space nearby has far too much litter. Cans, bottles and takeaway wrappings. There are plenty of bins to put this stuff in so why aren’t they used? From talking to some of the younger people around me, late 20’s and early 30s in age, I find many of them have lost their way. They see no point in doing anything or complaining about the litter or other things because they say nothing gets done and no one listens. They are happy to drink to excess and eat what I would call rubbish food because they say, life is not what they would like it to be but they have no idea how to change it. They don’t want to vote in elections because they say it does not mean anything as nothing ever changes.
I am doing my best to discuss stuff with them to help them find their way but they are so disempowered and have no ambition to change. What would you do?
Here is a photo taken on my walk this morning.
Although the calendar tells me it is the 1st of May I am not so sure about the weather. We have had snow, hail, a mini tornado and heavy rain together with a bitterly cold wind this last week. I feel sorry for the birds who have hatchlings, the butterflies and other insects who now find it too cold to survive and the trees just coming into bud where some leaves have now frizzled up with the cold wind.
This happened earlier in the year. December and January were mild until the last ten days or so in January when we had heavy frosts which killed off a lot of sprouting leaves and plant shoots. Yet nature carries on and recovers albeit slowly. Once it gets warm I hope to see lovely blossoms and bright flowers attracting the bees and butterflies. My forsythia is in full bloom now but much later than it should be.
One thing I noticed this week when I went into the gardens in town was a notice about bees and a bee friendly flower bed. Someone else told me that this is normal for our council and for me I find it a very positive outlook for a change. Now is the time to make sure our gardens attract wild life of all kinds so they stay with us and do not die out. Is your garden friendly towards wild life? Do you plant bee friendly flowers and shrubs?
I love the signs of spring and they are arriving quite quickly now. There are little green shoots on the hedge shrubs and although the January cold killed off some new shoots on the forsythia, it has now produced more shoots. The blackbirds were dancing around each other yesterday, two females and one male. One female kept hiding amongst the shrubs while the other one seemed happy to be pursued.
The starlings are showing their almost mature plumage with wonderful colours hiding but showing in the sunlight. But most of all when the mist clears the cobwebs are like jewels with drops of water hanging from them. The sun is warmer too and I was able to sit outside for a short while yesterday enjoying the sun and watching the life going on around me. Someone came to collect the rotary clothes line and while getting it out we disturbed two earthworms so we knew that there was life beneath the soil going on as usual.
I am still clearing out and various items are being given to other people and I feel so much better with this. I am looking forward to my new home near a large open space with lots of trees. I can see it now in my mind and see myself sitting there breathing it all in.
Have you noticed signs of spring where you live and if so what have you seen?
I know many people who shudder at the word ‘ritual’. They see it as something bad and horrible. But our daily life is full of rituals. Making a pot of tea is a ritual and pouring it into a cup is even more so. Do you warm the pot first? Do you add milk to your cup before or after? Have a look at the things you do each day and see how many are rituals. You may be surprised.
But let’s look at some kind of rituals. One I do each morning when I get up is open the door (I only have one door to the outside) and let the stale air out and new fresh air in. I stand there quietly for a few minutes and breath in the morning air. I look at the sky, the birds flying around and listen to them chirping and singing. It is quiet and I can hear traffic on the bypass. It is a few moments of stillness before I start my day and it is special for me to do this. While I am doing this I am also connecting to the elements around me and becoming a part of them. This morning it was raining gently and I let the rain fall on my face. It is a daily ritual but full of meaning and mindfulness.
While eating my breakfast I sit facing the window so I can see the sky and the birds on the feeders. As I do this every day then it becomes another ritual. For the druid rituals for celebrating the seasons and festivals I prefer to use the word celebration as that is what it is. To me it only becomes a ritual if you do the same things each time and I do not do this as I prefer to work spontaneously. A final word here; writing my blog on a Sunday morning is another ritual. I spend time thinking about my theme for the blog, find a photo to add and then write straight from my heart.
I’d love to read your thoughts on ritual and what it means to you.
I spend a lot of time watching the birds, the clouds and people. It can be a very interesting pastime. This morning while I sat eating my breakfast I watched the clouds rushing across the sky. They were quite dark at first then little bits of white appeared and the grey clouds became tipped with yellow. Now was the time to go outside with the camera. I am a bit limited with a view from my bungalow as it is surrounded by others but a zoom lens and a good eye can bring the clouds to life in a photo I uploaded 6 of them to my Facebook page but I will add the best one here later.
I love to watch the birds on the feeders too. They can be very amusing and their behaviour too. I have watched them push one another off the feeder so they can eat first. There is always a lot of squabbling going on.
But watching people is also interesting. I do this when sitting outside on my bench or on the bus or in a cafe. Body language can tell you so much about a person. But one of the things that has struck me in the past is how many people put on a public face when others are around. I have seen people sit up straighter and smile when they thought I was watching them. What were they trying to hide? I know that many people who have illnesses that cannot be seen often put on a what we call a ‘brave face’. Is this a good thing to do or should we really show ourselves as we are to others?
I knew someone once who put on a lot of make-up, thick and like a mask. Was this done this way because she did not want the world to see her as she was or was it the only way she could be out in public? This in itself could make another topic for a blog. But as a final note, I always say to others, this is me, if you don’t like how I look or what I wear then that is your problem. Take me as you find me is my motto.