I am writing this at the start of our November COVID-19 lockdown in England.
I try to remember what I did last time round, back in that beautiful spring time, when the unexpected closure of schools meant home-schooling my 5-year-old for a number of weeks, alongside balancing work and the uncertainty of the time. Our saviour was the daily walks and bike rides out into nature, observing what was happening with the trees and plants, seeing what creatures we could find, and visiting our local community orchard to check on the development of the blossom and fruit.
My curiosity and appreciation of what was around us at that time was helped by having my child at my side and the need for us to escape our small flat and be outside. But this time he is (happily) at school and it is up to me to motivate myself to get outside every day and observe the change of the season and appreciate what autumn and winter have to offer us. I know that this will be helpful for my mental and physical health as it was back in the spring.
I slipped out at lunchtime today and walked a familiar route that I often take through my local park towards the community orchard, it’s a bit of a cloudy day and at first seems quite bleak but breathing in the fresh air does wonders to wake me up and make me feel more alive. It’s a time when some trees stand barren whilst others are managing to hold on to green leaves and I wonder what I will find in the orchard when I get there. I get closer to the apple and pear trees and notice that there is a real intricacy to some of the leaves at the moment, changing colour before they slowly die and fall off the tree. I take pleasure in looking close up and noticing the different shapes, patterns and colours. It feels good to switch my brain off from the concerns of the day and just be present in that moment. The dampness of the long grass soaks into my shoes, and the sun appears from behind the clouds and warms my face.
After a short time I head back to my flat to resume work, feeling more clear-headed and energetic than I did just a little while earlier. Connecting with nature has proven benefits for mental health, and being still and present in a moment – sometimes known as mindfulness, also brings benefits to mental health. There are even coaches who can help you create a mindful connection with nature in this difficult time. I encourage you if you can to try and do something everyday to observe and enjoy being in nature, its one little way that we can have control over our lives in these uncertain times. And another way to appreciate what the natural world and orchards keep giving to us at different times of the year.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read ‘Locking-Down is Slowing Down: A New, National Appreciation for Nature’s Rhythms?‘.