The Wildlife Trusts are running a challenge for people to spend June connecting with nature. I’m keeping a diary of how I spend my wild days.
Day 20- Wildlife Rescue.
We found a tree bumblebee, exhausted and just sitting on someone’s leg. We popped it on a flower whilst we did some things out in the wood and as it wasn’t revived we took it in for a little bit of sugar and water. It was amazing to watch it’s little tongue flicking as it sucked up the sugar and then started to use it’s wings as it got stronger.
Then off it went!
Day 19 – Ermine moth caterpillar encounter
I’ll admit. I pulled over. But look at it, how could you not stop to marvel at this tree, completely covered by caterpillar silk. I was hoping the caterpillars would have gone so I could harvest the silk but they were still in abundance. I’ll keep my eyes open over the next few weeks so I can make a harvest.
Day 18 – Making a shrink pot
Big thanks to Tom of Greenman learning. He brought some really nice wood to carve shrink pots to Bradford Forest School Network Forest Fest, I loved carving my pot.
Day 17 – Hide and Seek
I love playing games in the woods where you hide. You can just see a couple of people I spotted in the left hand side of this picture. On the right is the real reason I love playing hiding games. When you are crouching in one spot, trying to stay still, I find myself staring so closely at the earth and noticing the most fascinating things.
We were playing a version called ‘come closer’ where everyone has to try and hide as close as they can without being spotted.
Day 16 – Blobsters
I observed a lovely session in which Ness, Lorna and Justin told us a story about the blobsters and how they wanted to form a new community on the other side of the water. Blobsters are a creative way to explore the potential of loose parts to make characters. It’s so much better when they go on adventures. Check out Chris Holland’s book- ‘I love my world’, for a version of the blobster story.
Day 15 – I got a microscope!
A friend gave me a microscope. A proper grownup microscope that belonged to her dad who used it to look at medical things. That means it has a ridiculous level of magnification. I went into her garden to find something to magnify. ( I was told I wasn’t allowed to bring a slug in). In the leaves it was actually possible to see the water travelling through the veins. Astonishing!
Day 14- Elderflower Cordial
This is my really simple elderflower cordial recipe. It can be made really quickly out in the woods or wild and bringing a bag of ice means we could have a fresh cool drink from the fire.
We boiled up the water, pure it over the sugar, flowers and lemon and let it stand for 10 minutes or more. The measurements are not critical.
Day 13- Urban Nature
Spending so many of my wild days out in the countryside where I live means I can appreciate some city time. Driving through the city centre I was struck by how nature thrives in the spaces on the edges, the abandoned lots, the roundabouts, the edges and the cracks.
Day 12- Collecting the weeds
I love having bunches of flowers around the house. I don’t like spending money or how far all the flowers travel. The very best solution for me is to pick flowers from the garden. I’m not much of a gardener so my arrangements often feature weeds, vegetables that have gone to seed and grass.
Day 11 – Enjoying the rain
It’s been a quiet day for me today. I had a little wander around the garden, thankful for the soft rain.
Day 10- Roadside gathering
Knowing that we were teaching firelighting today and it being a bit damp and drizzly made me more aware of what I was passing on the road into work.
I’m seriously thinking of getting a bumper sticker, as I will stop for banks of dried out rosebay willow herb, hedges full of dried goosegrass and ditches full of reedmace. Some of the best firelighting material can be gathered in moments.
Day 9 – finding a rainbow in a garden
I’m working in a wonderful community Forest Garden in the North East at the moment. As I walked through the garden I found the range and vibrancy of the colours really inviting to my senses.
I found myself collecting a a rainbow.
Day 8- Making a home
Our group that have been coming to the woods since February quite liked the idea of making some bird boxes so they could leave something in the wood. If you want some plans that are not quite as sketchy check here.
One of the lads lay in a hammock afterwards and sang “bird box, bird box, you can sleep in it and make a nest.”
Day 7 – A frog!
About 10 days ago we dug a bucket into the ground in the hope that having water in the garden would make things good for the wildlife.
We got our first visitor.
Day 6 – Creating with nature
I had a great time in the woods today, facilitating an away day for a team from an environmental charity. Lots of lovely moments during the day, with a buzzard mewing overhead and being surrounded by the lushness of the wood. They made these images, creating with nature.
Day 5 – Spotting Mars
We came home quite late from a party in the woods. I really liked walking away through the trees and the wood after dark, although that was mostly on Day 4. By the time we got home it was after midnight and we sat in the garden with a cup of tea looking at the stars. Which is when I noticed a planet and realised how many planets are visible just now.
From Star Walk
Day 4 – Cooking on a fire
Today I was working in a very un-natured spot, out of the back of a youth centre. The kids love cooking and eating so we cooked pancakes, popcorn and toffee(ish) apples. One of the kids commented “its like cooking but the food is on sticks and the heat is from sticks.” Luckily we had just enough sticks for the whole day.
The toffee-ish apples meet a similar niche as marshmallows, everyone cooks their own and manages the cooking process. One boy said that it was the first time he had eaten an apple and he was going to eat them at home and maybe even try a pear next.
Food and fire feeds the wild one in us all.
Day 3- Feet on the Earth
It didn’t start as a conscious decision I’ve just had one of those days when I’ve not needed to put shoes on. This apparently means I have got all sorts of health benefits from my contact with nature;
Here’s a little visual diary of some of the places my feet have been. Some are wilder than others.
Day 2- Sitting in my spot
I have a spot where I sit. When I’m having an office day I take my breaks there and I just sit and watch what’s going on. Jon Young calls this the ‘best teacher’ when it comes to nature. There are two very busy blackbirds pulling worms out of the grass. I wonder where they are nesting? The swallow eggs in the nest in the shed with the broken window must have hatched as I can hear them shouting when an adult bird comes in. I can’t work out if there are three adults coming and going. That’s the thing about sitting, it brings up good questions that need more sitting to try and work out.
I got to see where the blackbirds were heading;
“The best teacher is one place.” – Jon Young.
Day 1- Collecting Treasures.
In the woods today doing a holiday session with the Stomping Ground crew. Some of the children in the group became really fascinated with the things we were finding in the woods. We made a display area on a fallen log
We discussed and debated what the different egg shells we found could belong to, marvelled at the structure of a breast bone and enjoyed noticing how the hooks on feathers make the weather tidy again.
It made me realise how much of a gatherer I am. Always looking for treasures whenever I am in nature.