A Month in the Country …
For the month of June, in a new, simple and innovative campaign, The Wildlife Trusts challenged us all to commit ‘random acts of wildness’ on a daily basis – and so began 30 Days Wild. What a lovely gift of a thing to do.
We accepted the challenge with enthusiasm: having never been able to switch off from the bright presence of a world so vibrant, so other and so necessary, I am pretty wild most of the time. There is always something new, different, beautiful, intriguing, puzzling even – and there are those reassuringly familiar things, too, reappearing like old friends with a lifetime of memory and association: it is June and there are fledglings in the garden and the dog roses with their five, heart-shaped petals, cascading off the hedgerows (that once, I cascaded in an envelope ‘bluey’ to send to my husband in Iraq). And in town, there is the drama of screaming parties of swifts, in a 70mph peloton around the church tower, rounding corners we can only imagine, before they drift up to sleep like aerial dolphins, each half of their brains taking turns to sleep.
I could have just led my June life in my normal, half-wild way, but that would have been lazy, so my eldest daughter and I thought of different things to do. I set up a display of new (and old) ‘Nature Writing’ in our local Library, enjoyed a habitat day out with school at the Nature Discovery Centre with BBOWT, and we took our school book club meeting outside, discussing nature in the book we had read (Corvidae, in Gabriel’s Clock) . We started the first leg of a long distance walk and I co-led a farm conservation walk and a talk on local wildlife, and I wrote, blogged and tweeted like fury. My daughter led a protest to defend bees under threat of eviction at school (they were saved by our local beekeeper), watched a nest of blackbirds fledge in the middle of her birthday party and wild-camped out with the Scouts on Bucklebury Common. We investigated every rustle on the way to school (making us late) and were rewarded when a big grass snake slide under a crowd of tall foxgloves. We waded across a mysterious, magical mere with a stick called ‘Chieveley’ and climbed trees. We looked harder, listened harder, went the extra mile (literally) and used #30dayswild as an excuse to get out and get out of doing chores.
And we got angry and passionate. Because, with news that we are on the cusp of an entirely manmade, sixth mass extinction of life on earth, it is very, very important. Human nature is inherently wild, and a wonder and love for the natural world keeps us from being cynical, dull, inward-looking machines that will stop evolving and die out. I made a pledge for my three children and any of the friends they bring home, so that they stay wild, stay involved and stay curious.