Giant chestnut tree at Lough Eske, Donegal. PHOTO Siobhán McNamara
Isn’t it funny how we tune into the natural world when the fast pace of daily life is gone?
There are few cars on the road, less machinery at work and the general hustle and bustle of life has almost ground to a halt. Even if we are still busy at work, our other activities have stopped so we are not always running from one thing to the next.
Some people struggle with the stillness and I can understand why, to a point. But personally, I love it.
I find it comforting, like a gentle blanket; and in that stillness, memories of a more innocent, quieter time come unbidden. Hearing birdsong from the treetops and bees at work among the flowers transports me to forts I built as a child,or trees I climbed to watch the world around me. There were quiet patches of woodland where bluebells signified a change from late spring to summer. On the roadside, hawthorn would gradually give way to fragrant honeysuckle; primroses to tiny but delicious wild strawberries.
It’s not that I had forgotten all of this, but it has been a long time since I felt so totally absorbed into the world around me, so aware of all these subtle changes that bring us gradually from one season to the next.
Some years back, I wrote a piece based on a theme of ‘senses’ that was being discussed in a writing group. My contribution was about closing your eyes and using your other senses in order to better see the world around you, and about how much clearer everything appears when you reopen them. I was reminded of this recently when a landscape artist gave the same advice in an episode of Countryfile.
So if stillness doesn’t sit well with you, or you are struggling to find it amidst the sadness and anxiety of this Covid-19 pandemic, this is my suggestion. Find a quiet place and make yourself comfortable. Then simply close your eyes and listen.
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