“I see trees so green, red roses too…skies so blue and clouds so white…dark sacred night…colours of the rainbow…”
If you were to add to the lyrics of that great song made famous by Louis Armstrong, what would make your “wonderful world”?
I’d probably add (for starters): bluebells, still pools, raging seas, forked lightning, new-mown grass, virgin snow…And how do you engage with that wonderful world?
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing something beautiful”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
This wonderful world starts at my back door…
We’re all different, aren’t we, in the way we choose to experience the wonders of the natural world? And none of us is doing it wrong!
What’s your preference?
Are you a sunseeker, a “lie-on the beach”er,
An airmiles guzzler, a “where-does-this-lead” puzzler,
A “ship-to-shore” tourist, a “back-to-nature” purist,
A tree-hugger, an 18th green putter,
A long-distance runner, a pool-side stunner,
A geocacher, a stand-up paddler,
A thrill-seeker, A mountain trekker?
I like to engage with this wonderful world with all my senses:
Growing up at the coast in Cornwall, my Grandpa used to come and stay with us and I can remember walking along the cliffs with him, and him stopping, looking out to sea, inhaling and uttering words that have remained with me: “Ahh! Sea air!”
What are your favourite ways of engaging with this wonderful world?
For some, it may be a regular walk in the countryside or a city park nearby. Others may travel a bit further to the coast or the hills to take a more serious walk – a stroll in dramatic surroundings – taking in the landscape and fresh air.
Of course, walking isn’t enough for some and I suppose the sky’s the limit, literally, when it comes to exciting ways of experiencing the great outdoors –Cycling, surfing, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, gliding and skydiving are other ways of feeling the wind in your hair.
The desire to enjoy the wonderful world around us was so well expressed by W H Davies a century ago in his poem Leisure:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
As a photographer, I suppose I often appreciate the world around me through the viewfinder of my Sony DSLR (or my Smartphone). To some, this may seem like an unnecessary dilution of the pure natural experience, yet for me, it enables me to continue to relive the wonder of the moment – a rainbow, a stormy sea, a dramatic sunset…and I say to myself: “What a wonderful world”.
Getting out in the fresh air is well known to enhance health and well-being. There are the physical benefits of exercise and exposure to sunshine (in moderation). However, it is also recognised that spending time outside can have a positive effect on a person’s mental and spiritual health.
Those who may be watching the BBC’s SpringWatch will know that the mindfulness moment feature is an important part of the programme: 90 seconds of watching nature and taking in the sights and sounds without the distraction of human commentary.
Similarly, to sit by a lake, the ocean, up a hill or mountain, in a wood, or even at the local park and just “take in the view” is likely to be beneficial, leading to a reduction in stress levels. Watching a swan gliding through the water, a bird in flight or a butterfly or a bee can have a profound impact on a person’s well-being.
In addition, by consciously slowing one’s breathing and wallowing in the sights, sounds and smells, a deep feeling of peace and contentment may be found.
So how do you connect with nature – and is there, perhaps, something you could decide to do this week that might help you enjoy the great outdoors?