Nature is to be experienced

In a previous post, I discussed how TV nature documentaries allow us to experience Nature vicariously – through the eyes of another – and I encouraged you to get out there and experience Nature for yourselves. Here are three examples.

The experiences can be simply wonderful, and so much more exhilarating than watching a TV nature documentary.

For example, as a teenager I remember leaning over a canal bridge one balmy summer evening; day-dreaming as the dusk began to fall and the midges started to bite. Along the towpath a large white bird materialized. I thought at first it was a seagull, but as it approached I realized it was a barn owl out hunting. I sank below the parapet with just my eyes peeking over. The barn owl came closer and closer, but instead of flying under the bridge it flew over it, immediately above me. For a brief moment it hovered silently about a meter over my head. I looked up into the deepest, most gorgeous dark eyes of this totally wild bird – an experience I remember to this day, forty years later.

Then there was the large oak forest that I visited one evening in May. I sat down amongst the trees, leant against a tree trunk, and simply waited, motionless. Some time later, I heard a faint rustle behind me. I was itching to turn and look, but stayed as still as a statue, almost not breathing. Faint footsteps padded closer. I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. I slowly turned my head to see a beautiful female Muntjac deer, contentedly chewing leaves, totally unaware of my presence. It was followed by her two youngsters. As I watched them disappear into the foliage, there was a louder rustling behind me, and gamboling into view came three fox cubs, followed by the vixen. One cub even came up to my outstretched legs and sniffed at my boots before disappearing.

Then there was the time I was walking in the Belgian Ardennes, and after a tiring almost vertical climb I was sitting on the grass catching my breath when I heard a sound like a frog croaking. Frogs are always on the ground, so that’s where I looked, only to realize that the croaking was coming from above me – in the sky. I looked up to see one of the great spectacles of the world of nature – a flock of magnificent cranes on their northerly migration from Portugal and Morocco to Scandinavia.

The flock I was watching suddenly stopped and started circling in the sky… once, twice, three times. I thought for a minute they were lost. But then I heard some more croaking behind me and an even larger flock of cranes appeared. The first group seemed to have decided to wait a bit to allow the second flock to catch up. It was an absolutely wonderful experience.

So, why not take some time out, and get Out There. Or encourage your children to do so. Get into contact with Nature. Feel it, touch it, smell it, listen to it and observe it. I believe you will be uplifted and. I am sure you will smile and laugh. You will experience a sense of wonder. You may even feel rejuvenated.

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