‘Nature Connections’ – How do we make them work for us?

I was fascinated how the Art and Nature Connections Project would evolve for me personally as my own nature connection has always been one that relies on space and solitude. So, the thought of sharing this special experience with others felt a slightly uncomfortable one! Part of our project activity was to explore how these connections with others can impact our wellbeing… could they? How would that work for me?

Our first connection as a group was through our series of online creative sessions – a chance to discover new things about each of our relationships with all things creative as well as the natural world. This online space included both time for sharing and a quiet space to work creatively. What soon unfolded was truly surprising and enlightening.

Developing bonds

It became an enriching space where I was able to feed my own connection with the natural world, by drawing both connections and noticing differences in others’ experiences. I noticed how nature and talking and sharing our experiences helped us to develop a bond and safe space together; we all had experiences to share.

Feeding this connection happened in our online time together but also for me it occurred in the physical space between our sessions, sometimes this would not be obvious or even immediate.

I might be outside in nature, when a thought or a reflection previously shared as part of our online space would pop up, whether it was the light shining on the river, or the movement of the branches. Suddenly I was seeing these familiar sights for what felt like the first time, with a fresh perspective or a different association.

A love of foraging

After an ankle injury last spring, I was unable to head for the hills or stride for miles along the beach, restricting my daily relationship and routine with nature. However, one of our co- researchers told of how she loved to forage, and her delight at the plants and species at her feet, which most of us do not even notice as we step ” outside.

I immediately felt intrigued. “Did I too have those plants outside my door?” And it was there that I discovered delights and species that I had simply trampled over before as I headed to the hills.

Altering perspective

This experience has enabled me to have a deeper appreciation of what is around me as well an awareness of the smaller, less obvious, things in nature. Previously, nature, for me, was always about vast scale and space and distance. Within our conversations in our group, some would speak about how vast landscapes felt overwhelming and it was the smaller details that made people feel safer or more comfortable. This has altered my perspective on the importance of scale in Nature. As have the discussions around nature not always being a beautiful thing and that at times Nature can be cruel and dangerous and frightening.

So, what has making those nature connections meant for me? It has enabled me to value these connections with others to help broaden and strengthen my own personal connection with nature. It has become clear that these connections did not need to compromise the privacy that I felt was necessary to encourage reflection, but that sharing these experiences with others simply adds new value, appreciation, companionship, and great warmth to the experience.