Inspired by Nature

I am a training skeptic.  Its rare that I attend a course and don'tsit at the back of the room lost in my own thoughts for the time someone talks at me.  In fact, I spent almost all years of my schooling doing just that.

Which is why I have been so thoroughly astounded by my course on Wednesday, "Inspired by Nature" lead by Gordon MacLellan of Creeping Toad.  It did what it said on the tin and I left the day inspired and invigorated both by nature and for the natural heritage.

Gordon describes himself as a "facilitator of celebrations", his work and his writings focus on how groups and communities can connect to the natural world and celebrate it. He had a wonderful way about him, leading the group with a gentle presence that really drew out what we wanted from the day, rather than following a set course plan. I have been on my share of courses that attempt to get you connected with the natural world, but being the cynic I am, have always left me feeling disconnected or at least forced.  Until this one.

Through a variety of artistic activities and discussions, Gordon allowed the group to explore the beautiful surroundings of SNH's Battleby office (invasive rhododendrons and all). The activities would be great for a group of adults or children, but I felt strongly throughout the day that each of them could be easily adapted for a home ed setting, if you so wished.

Needless to say, I couldn't really be lost in my own thought when we were:

Writing "kennings" (as in "ye ken?" or "you know").  They are pairs of words to describe something you see...a kind of poetic riddle, if you will

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Black Gold. Root Stretching. Worm Dwelling...Dirt

Drawing attention to something we saw and loved in the natural world using materials we could find on the forest floor:

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Collecting "Balls of Spring": a ball of clay with bits of what we want to capture about the season stuck into it.
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I came home with his book Celebrating Nature and I would argue its the best nature activity book I have seen (I also have read I love dirt, earthwise and celebrating the great mother in the genre).  There are a range of activities for all age levels and interests.

Most of all, I came home from my day's training feeling very inspired both by nature but also by the work that is going on to connect people to the natural world. As a parent, I find it immensely depressing to look out on a world that seems to be full of doom and gloom...or worse a world where we are ignoring the truth of the place we find ourselves.  I am also so easily sucked into that dark mentality, that its wonderful to find a light of inspiration amidst the blackness.

Notes:
- Photos were taken by another course participant.  Thanks, E!

- For more on the connection between children and the environment, see Alastair McIntosh's article about the stillbirth of his son, Ossian (that is if you can read it...I have only made it through once)

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