Our lives are full of trees and changing leaves

post by Anna

“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves…”

Virginia Woolf

Cast your mind back to the Autumn of 2017… Do you remember it? I do. And the reason I remember it so well is that Autumn 2017 was when we ran our first ever Joyful Nature noticing nature challenge. We called it a ‘28 Day Experiment’. And that’s exactly what it was.

Me and a bunch of intrepid explorers set off on a 28-day journey to connect with everyday nature, sharing what we experienced along the way in our Facebook group, supporting each other and delighting in our own and others’ nature experiences.

It was a simple premise: each day, for 28 days, notice something in nature that makes you smile.

September 2017

Three years later (24 September 2020), we are in the middle of our current 7-day ‘Hello Autumn’ nature connection challenge.

September 2020

Same time of year. Very different circumstances.

In 2017, I was going to my office on a university campus every working day. I used the journey there and back, and the university’s grounds, as opportunities for my daily nature noticing. Weekends included going for walks and listening to an owl hooting in the trees outside my house.

This year – 2020 – I’ve spent the last 6 months working from home. For two months of that, we were on (pandemic) lockdown and only allowed to go outside for a limited time and at a restricted distance.

Necessity breeds invention and those first two months also included the launch and very successful running of our Noticing Nature Community (which actively ran for 67 days – until the lockdown restrictions were eased).

Our Facebook community

Each of these events has posed its own challenges and joys. Reflecting on the lockdown group and the current Hello Autumn one, I’m struck by how we need to be able to adapt our nature connection practices: both in response to personal life events and those that impact whole populations.

I’m missing the magnificent maple and cherry trees I used to watch from my office window. I’m missing being entertained by the gulls that used to ‘tap dance’ on the grassy university quadrangle.

But what I’ve gained is a closer and more attentive relationship to the nature (quite literally) on my doorstep. This week I noticed that the ash keys that have been suspended over my garden in big green bunches have finally turned brown and are beginning to helicopter down to ground level.

I’ve noticed the assortment of found nature objects that I’ve collected over the years and positioned around my house: dried up conkers, seashells, and pebbles with lines and faces. Memories and mementos from times ‘out in nature’.

And I’ve noticed my commitment to maintaining an active relationship with the natural world. Even on the days I can’t go outside I am still able to open a window and look up at the sky. And maybe, if I’m lucky, a window left open at night time will bring the sounds of the owl hooting to me.

There’s still time to join us on and say Hello to Autumn – click here to be taken to the Facebook page where all the magic happens!

And please like our Facebook page to be the first to hear about new nature connection challenges and groups.  

Please share the joy!
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