This is the diverse output from an hour-long nature-writing workshop in which we talked about how we write ourselves into our nature writing. Enjoy!
(This fabulous landscape photo was taken by Paul Knights)
A flock of swifts over the reservoir, maybe fifty of them wheeling and whizzing above the dark blue water. I’m grinning and cricking my neck to watch them as I steer my ponderous formorian self through the inky depths. Do I envy the weightless birds, sky spirits surging and dancing?
Lisa Stockley is an open water swimming, bird obsessing, cloud watching, tarot reading, slow running, spirit seeking nature writer.
The Most Important Should
The light of the sun reverberates across the lake. Tits hiding in the bushes compete with mallards to be the loudest song. Pure white swans glide by- far too elegant to be caught up in such foolery. What could be more important than to observe this?
Grounded fledglings are common at this time of year. Today it’s a newly fledged blackbird that’s fallen from a rose bush. It sits there, all gape and no tail, looking bewildered by its unexpected descent. Braving the thorns, I scoop it up and replace it carefully out of harm’s way.
After dinner, we haul ourselves up the hill, my son and I. Here, at the gate, while he probes the long grass for bugs, I read the landscape’s evening news: the latest trees in leaf, which meadows have been shut up for hay, the weather coming in from the west.
As I’m unpegging the washing, bees rise, dip, circle outside their home in the eucalyptus tree – they’re not happy. I retreat indoors. Ronnie soon dashes after me, and after her, a bee. It circles the dog’s head before flying back outside. The message is clear: ‘And stay there!’.
A morning walk through cow parsley, thinking of nothing, and then – a tree bright with birdsong; tsee-tsee-tsee. Long-tailed Tits, I think, and they are. Even better, they are fledglings, testing their wings and voices –squabbling teenage siblings. One fixes me with a sulky stare – definitely a ‘teenager’.
Up he flies onto my garden rake
Puffs out his red tangerine breast
Starts chirping as if he’s on Speakers Corner
Is this the deal that I listen first?
I remain still, enraptured
Suddenly he takes a peek on the wing over my hand
Decides not today!
Gloria Maloney is a bird enthusiast, nature painter, lover, walker. Soaking up Nature’s fringe benefits, constantly wanting more! So off on another walk pen and note book in hand, binocular’s ever ready. Housework left yet again!
Usually such an unfriendly plant, all thorns and spikes. But now frothing blossom makes it a bees best friend. Nectar seeking bumbling dumbledores scramble over the flowers; honey bees are methodical and organised but a smart, sleek humbug – ashy mining bee- gives a masterclass in foraging panache.
Nicola Hunt is a bird-loving, allotment holding, wildlife seeking, bee-following, cloud-watching, moth-identifying awe-inspired nature writer.
Little mounds of soft plush green velvet, like my mother’s pincushion (minus pins). Tough, adaptable to heat and chill. Hugging moisture like a sponge or drying to a scab to protect whatever’s beneath. Thousands of species. Vital to ecosystems throughout the world. Just wish you wouldn’t colonise my drive!
Standing on the edge, I knew all was okay with the world. Behind me the cosy embrace of canopy, branches, and the morning’s damp warmth. Infront of me rolling hills and fresh air, as the fields wandered down to marshland, where earth meets the promise of open water.
Nature repays with beauty our smallest acts of caring. A lovingly nurtured crab-apple—rescued from chest-high brambles—reciprocated with a blossoming so spectacular it compelled a painting. And our boldest chickadee—who in winter accepted sunflower-seeds from my hand—alighted unexpectedly atop my easel to share his song of spring.
Tessa Grasswitz is an artistically inclined, curiosity-driven, closely observing, peace- and beauty-seeking, solitude-appreciating lover of Nature, who writes about the natural world out of gratitude and with a deep appreciation (before it all disappears)
[Chickadees are North American bird related to European Great Tits]