‘Spring won’t let me stay in the house any longer!
I must get out and breathe the air deeply again’
These inspiring words of the composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) resonate so strongly with me as we prepare to remove our protective cloaks of winter and say ‘welcome’ to spring. The long-awaited season of spring, so appreciated after the darker months, is a fantastic time of renewal for both nature and of ourselves. A time of refreshing our homes and minds, therefore, the prefect time to re-engage with the countryside and revisit some of our ongoing WI campaigns.
We all know, through countless research projects, how good the natural world is for our mental health and well-being. I am sure that many of us feel uplifted after a stroll out on a sunny morning, but unless we truly engage with nature and are aligned with the ebb and flow of the seasons, we may only ever scratch the surface of its profound power. For much of our evolution we have lived in and around woodlands, but it is projected that by 2050, 70% of humanity will live in urban areas. Japan is a densely populated country with a high dependency on technology, so for several decades their doctors have prescribed ‘Shinrin Yoku’ or forest bathing as an antidote to their intense urban lifestyles. This involves purposefully spending time in woodlands deploying the senses to absorb the colours, sensations and patterns of life under the canopy. In other words, a device free mindfulness time whilst deeply inhaling the oxygen created by the trees…..Bliss!
I am asking you to intentionally delve deeper into nature, learn to identify wildflowers, bird songs, our native trees; learning a new one each week will soon build into a substantial compendium of knowledge and a deeper respect for our precious natural world. Don’t do these things on your own, implore your WI friends to join you and enjoy flower I-spy walks, or a bird watch over a coffee and cake in a garden or local beauty spot. Get out in your community to undertake a litter pick this spring accompanied by the song of your local birds. Visit a local farm at lambing time to watch young lambs turned out into the fields for the first time; see them gambol about with joy de vivre! Ignite some joint interest in citizen science projects; this can be invaluable information with global warming changing the synchronicity of nature. Partake in Blossom Watch, again an idea from the Japanese tradition of Hanami or paying homage to the fruitful but fleeting spring blossoms.
In the UK it is, however, a relatively new initiative for us to appreciate the value of this early pollen source for our pollinators. If you’re more energetic, volunteer at a local nature reserve or community growing area, there are so many options in our glorious county. Not only could such activities be highly beneficial on so many levels but may be developed more to support the WI campaigns, to alleviate loneliness, taking time for our mental health, SOS for all Bees and of course our environmental campaigns in general. I strongly believe in the collective power of small local actions to create greater outcomes.
So, grasp the mantle! Get outside to glory in the wonders of Mother Nature, open your hearts and minds and she will surely inspire you…wouldn’t she make an amazing WI member!
- Submitted by Suzanne Palmer Riches, Secretary of New Sarum WI.