This summer, I signed up for a lovely on-line course, run by a couple of friends of mine: Connect To Nature – Connect To Self. It involves spending time in nature, taking photographs (one of my favourite pastimes), writing, painting, creating mandalas… The list is almost endless!
My first foray into nature was to visit Newlands Corner, near Guildford, Surrey (UK). We’ve driven past it lots of times, and as you turn the corner, there’s an amazing vista of the Surrey Hills – so I’ve always intended to spend some time there. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The first time I visited, it was very hot and very windy – hot air rising in gusts from the valley below. I wandered around for a while, taking photgraphs – but I soon realised I wasn’t enjoying myself. So instead, I sat in the shade of an old oak tree, got out my Kindle, and read for a while. Bliss.
I realised there’s no point in forcing yourself to do something – even if it’s something you love – if it doesn’t feel right, at that moment. I don’t know whether it was the heat, or the wind; the fact that there were more people there than I had expected; or whether I had simply built the place up in my mind, and it somehow didn’t live up to my expectations.
A few days later, I thought I would give it another go. This time, as soon as I arrived it started to rain. In torrents. So, being a fair-weather kind of adventurer, I had to resort to sitting in the car, peering through the drenched windscreen at the view, until the rain stopped.
When the rain clouds eventually parted, and I ventured out, all was lush and green, with hardly a hint of dampness underfoot. This time, I felt in my element – crouching down to get up-close-and-personal with colourful and sometimes exotic-looking flora and fauna.
After a good stretch of the legs, I found a curvaceous bench – unlike the run-of-the-mill municipal benches that usually adorn our Areas of Outsanding Naturaly Beauty. The inscription read “Roger Cooper – 1937-1996”. I decided to “visit” Mr Cooper for a while, and got to wondering who he might have been, to merit his own distinctly styled bench. A local dignitary, perhaps? Or an artist?
As I sat and pondered the identity of my host, the heavens opened yet again, and I decided it was time to head home. Despite my raincoat, my jeans and T-shirt were soaked through, on the long walk back – but I didn’t care! The afternoon had been perfect, despite the inclement weather. I had connected with nature, and I had the photographs (and a video) to prove it!