As well as the natural world, one of my life long loves is Irish traditional music. After recently watching a documentary about how a sense of place can influence creativity and identity in folk music, one quote from the poet Patrick Kavanagh struck a chord with me:
“To know fully even one field or one land is a lifetime’s experience. In the world of poetic experience it is depth that counts, not width. A gap in a hedge, a smooth rock surfacing a narrow lane, a view of a woody meadow, the stream at the junction of four small fields – these are as much as a man can fully experience.”
It made me stop and think about my relationship to the natural world in my local patch.
More than ever I found myself watching for the smallest of changes, the horse chestnut and willow buds swelling in the hedgerows on the daily family walk around the block, the grey wagtails returning to peck and poke on the mossy shed roof at home and the daylight drawing out a little more each day.
Observing these changes in the natural world gives me a sense of peace - as if I have a huge circle of familiar friends that keep me company all year long. It helps me to attach to a place, wherever that may be.
And when I think of some of the great Lincolnshire botanists, such as Joan Gibbons (1902- 1988) and Reverend Woodruffe-Peacock (1858-1922) and I wonder how their lifelong love of plants was nurtured in a time when we could perhaps travel a little more slowly and look a little closer for just a bit longer; getting to know nature nearby.
It has been a recurring story over the last year about how we have become more aware of what is on our doorstep. It would be wonderful to think in these difficult times that we can harness this depth of experience and turn it into a positive force for nature close to home.