There is a lone oak tree on a hillside not far from my home. Its many branches are twisted with age, and there’s a notch in its thick trunk where some small creature has made a nest. At its base lie a few mossy stones, a bit of weathered deadwood, and a twisted tangle of brambles.
Happily enough, there’s also a small patch of grass that’s free of prickly plants, along with a flat, bare stone just large enough for a certain violet-haired visitor to sit upon whenever she comes to visit this loveliest of trees. (Spoiler alert: It’s me!)
I’ve neglected to visit my friend, the oak, as of late. Sometimes it can be all too easy to get caught up in what’s happening around the world. The mind goes into overdrive, seemingly unable to power down and switch off, as discouraging thoughts ping up and give rise to others. We can forget to rest, to be kind to ourselves, to do something not to be ‘productive’ but rather for the pure joy that activity can bring us. What’s more, we can forget that there is so much beauty and goodness just outside our front door, such as a favourite path through a local park or a pleasant place to sit between the out-stretched arms of an old tree.
I’d been trapped in a dissatisfying social media-checking loop when I came across The Wildlife Trusts‘ annual 30 Days Wild challenge, but as I read about this great campaign and discovered how others around the UK were taking part I immediately felt my mindset shift. Rather than fretting about the state of our world, I started thinking about favourite local spots to re-visit and new corners of our beautiful countryside to explore. My brain began to buzz, not with stressful thoughts but with ideas for how I might re-connect with and help protect nature near me.
Since signing up and pledging to do one Random Act of Wildness each day in June, I’ve mostly been focusing on treating myself to a local walk each day, my trusty camera in hand and a notepad and pens tucked into my daypack. And today, even with a bit of rain in the forecast, was no exception!
For the first time in a little while, I walked along the winding road lined with red-brick houses, then up the set of old stone steps wreathed in bright orange poppies, then finally across the grassy common ringed with sweet-smelling gorse to visit with my always welcoming friend, that grand old oak.
And what a wonderful welcome it gave me! Sitting above me amongst the branches, a song thrush sang me a sweet tune as I noticed the various colours, stripes, and spots on the cracked snail shell fragments resting at my feet. I wondered if perhaps they were crumbs leftover from the bird’s last feast. As I pondered this, a wren flitted through the undergrowth, moving very much like a tiny wind-up toy. I also caught a hint of elderflower wafting through the air from somewhere unseen, as bees darted about doing the very busy and very important work of pollinating.
It was pure joy, all of it.
Today’s personal Random Act of Wildness was to re-visit this beloved local greenspace, and to sit and simply notice the many delights of nature all around me. Every now and then, I’d jot down in my small pad of paper what I could see, hear, smell, and feel. When I take the time to notice such things, I find that I become even more mindful of my surroundings, more connected to the space I inhabit.
This sort of feeling can have a positive knock-on effect. Is it not true that whenever a place becomes quite special to us, we often care more about what happens to it? The nature that has nurtured us then moves us to take better care of it and fight for its protection.
Your next Random Act of Wildness doesn’t have to be like mine, of course – but I hope that my example has helped get you thinking about what you might do yourself! Whether you make a nature mandala, plant some pollinator-friendly plants in your garden, or have a picnic in the countryside, I’d love to know what you get up to! And don’t forget to share what you get up to this month on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by using the hashtag #30DaysWild, so that you can help inspire others to ‘go wild’ too!
All photographs featured here are my own.