It’ll be obvious from my photography that I love getting out into nature, preferably as wild as possible: I usually get out every weekend, typically somewhere on Dartmoor or the Devon coast. When the Covid-19 lockdown came that wasn’t possible anymore and I wondered how I was going to get the kind of healing nature connection that I so badly needed.
While I couldn’t do much about where I went or for how long, I knew from the ecopsychology research that the way we engage with nature is the key factor: it’s quality not quantity that counts. So I drew on my mindfulness practice to help me to be really present and opened my eyes to the beauty of everyday nature.
Exeter is blessed with some lovely parks, so there’s actually a lot of natural beauty once I looked properly.
I used my Smart Phone camera for all these photos, initially because I didn’t think of my brief daily outings as photography trips. But I found that being more limited in what I could do technically made me more creative.
When I posted this online it took a little while before someone recognized it for what it is. I simply put my phone inside a rotted tree and took a photo.
When you don’t have much time, you need to slow down! I’d usually allow myself just over an hour in the park and found the best way to maximize my enjoyment was to walk slowly or simply stand still. I’m not sure I’d have got this shot if I hadn’t have been in this slow-motion mode. I’ve never taken anything like it before so I’m guessing that something usual was going on in how I was seeing everyday nature.
Without the huge landscape of Dartmoor or the dramatic beauty of the Devon coast to nurture me, I needed to take a new perspective. Going slowly, laying down and getting close revealed wonders I’d previously missed.
There were a few serendipitous moment. I was sitting by the canal not looking at anything particular when I noticed how my camera saw the reflected sunlight.
I’ll end with a photo I took as lockdown began to ease. As soon as I was able to get to the beach, I was there! I took me an hour to cycle to Dawlish Warren, but it was well worth it.
Lockdown taught me a lot about how to deepen my connection to nature. As I write, the restrictions are easing, but what I learnt is going to serve me well whatever the future brings. Mindfulness, heightened sensory awareness and curious open attention can have a profound impact on how you relate to everyday nature. You can read more about my ‘Lesson from Lockdown’ in the final issue of The Hourglass.