Slow Nature is catching on fast.
“Slow” Movements are really popular right now: Slow Food, Slow Fashion, Slow Parenting, and many more.
Now, there’s Slow Nature. (It’s about time, right?)
Slow Nature isn’t claiming there’s anything wrong with speeding through a forest or natural area. It’s fun to sail through a forest canopy on a zipline, hurtle over obstacles on a mountain bike, or run really fast on a trail. You get your exercise and your nature-fix all in one brisk outing. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
But, when you speed, you miss so much.
And in places where wild nature is scarce, it makes sense to reserve natural areas for, well, nature.
Connecting with nature in a meaningful way is the idea behind Slow Nature.
There are whole worlds in the layers of a forest, from gazillions of tiny microbes in the soil, to the massive, centuries-old cedars, hemlocks, and Douglas firs. But, you don’t need a pristine old-growth forest to practice Slow Nature. Most any natural area will do, even ones that have already suffered from invasive species.
Slow Nature is not about pristine, it is about recognizing our fellow living beings: plants, animals, insects, and everything in between.
Connecting with nature happens when you slow down and look closely…
You don’t need to be an expert. You don’t need to know anything at all…just how to put one foot in front of the other and to keep your eyes open.
I found these tiny mushrooms huddled together like they were waiting for a bus in the rain. Hidden in the soil lives the mysterious fungus—the non-plant, non-animal being that sends up these “fruiting bodies” when it’s time to reproduce. Wikipedia tells me fungi are genetically closer to animals than plants.
Something to consider if you’re a vegetarian, I suppose.
Springtime is my favorite time in the forest—I love the joyful unfurling of the ferns. They make such cool spiral shapes. I’d love to see a time-lapse of this. Reminds me of those things you blow on New Years Eve.
There is even a lot to appreciate in the beautiful, sharp-tempered nettle. Look, but don’t get too close—she is covered with tiny, chemical-filled stinging needles. What a brilliant defense mechanism against nibblers! But, if you cook them, nettles are delicious—the needles lose their sting. I wonder how long it would take nettles to evolve cook-proof needles?
Practicing Slow Nature, you will sometimes see magnificent things that take your breath away…
Other times, you’ll see more humble things—or even those considered “bad” for one reason or another. But, aren’t they wonderful in their own way…if you look closely?
Connecting with nature is best done slowly.
You don’t need expensive equipment, just a good pair of walking shoes, and a good attitude. You can be any age, background, or income level. Slow Nature is fun, healthy, and essential for well-being.
Plus, slowly and quietly, you’ll have a much better chance of seeing wildlife, too. (I’ll save that for a future post).
But, one thing I can guarantee you will NOT see…
Forests—and natural areas in general—are no more dangerous than pretty much anywhere else. Even natural areas in cities. Especially in cities. If you need convincing, check your local crime/accident statistics. The real ones—not the hyped-up ones.
Join the Slow Nature Movement today!
(And join Seattle Nature Alliance too)
(originally posted by Denise Dahn, March 12, 2014, on Denise Dahn, Artist/Writer)
4 thoughts on “Slow Nature”
That was beautiful, Denise. Wonderful photos and writing…except the use of “kill two birds with one stone” – my parrot objects!
Thanks, Arlene. I know…it’s a hideous cliche, isn’t it? Shameless attention-getting device! One of our continuing issues is to try to keep people from trampling the forest floor so much, to protect the shrub and ground nesting birds…and also the plants and fungi, too!
There is some research on it. It’s called ‘soft fascination’ and it allows the mind to reflect, problem solve and be creative. I wrote a similar item for the PlantAmnesty newsletter. it follows.:
I’m too busy—I mean way too busy. This condition never seems to let up much anymore. Worse yet, it seems to afflict almost everyone I know. We should have an acronym as in, “It can’t be helped, she’s WTB.” As a result of my WTB syndrome, my emails get sloppy, which makes me sound uneducated. I don’t get back to people, making me seem rude. And I can’t get to the smallest of tasks, making me seem negligent. Terrible.
Working too hard indoors is not a healthy way to live. I feel guilty when I try to relax, so sometimes I rest by pursuing a useful distraction. For example, this year I did a turnabout and became enamored with ironing. When you iron too fast the wrinkles don’t come out. So ironing forced me to slow down. Once I succumbed to the pace, I found it very gratifying.
To escape the pressures of living the WTB life, I sometimes launch a search for some special object. This year the special object was a ribbon shredder. Or I will fixate on a silly project like making a display cake for the PlantAmnesty cake walk. I used calking for icing and put metal stars and pink ribbon on it as decoration. I’ve made a walking tree, a partial solar system, a steam punk time machine, and, well, you get the picture.
But what I really like to do best for my mental health is take note of nature.
One day this summer when I was tearing around the house trying to get a hundred things done at once, I glanced outside my bedroom window and noticed a little dried leaf caught on a strand of spider silk floating about four inches above the ground. Huh, I thought, it seems to be hovering there. Then, as of it were an act of God, the sun suddenly illuminated a perfect spider web, complete with garden spider, about ten feet above it. The strand and its leaf were suspended from the bottom of that web. I thought, as you might, that the silk strand and leaf were just the result of some accident that broke a web. But this looked—and I wondered if it could be—on purpose.
A good 45 minutes later, after consulting the Google, I learned what was happening. The spider uses the silk strand and the attached leave on purpose to steady the web as it is being built. The leaf can be raised and lowered by Charlotte the spider as needed. She keeps the leaf, even as it reweaves the web every day or two, recycling the old webbing by eating it. A Charlotte it had to be since, as I learned, all the spiders in orbed webs are girls. The boys are quite small and just come to, well, visit. Then they are off to find another fair Charlotte. One of the stranger things I have ever seen—you may want to skip viewing this on YouTube—is a pair of orbed garden spiders mating. It goes on for a while and is slightly creepy.
Anyway, after having googled all this, I had to take off for an errand. When I returned an hour or two later, sure enough, the leaf had been drawn up eight feet to just below the web. Huh, I thought, isn’t that interesting.
Since then I have spotted and followed several more stranded leaves to their webs. How did I miss this before? One of the reasons I love gardening is that I get to see cool and beautiful things all the time. As I work in the peaceful world with weather, living things, and earthy and sweet smells, I am refreshed, rested, and my mind is released to think new thoughts. This is called soft fascination. Look that up on your Google.
I wish everybody knew and believed what we gardeners know–that gardening is good for whatever ails you. And for what ails your planet for that matter. So be sure to rest your mind and enrich your day by going outside and tending something in the garden–as soon as there is a break in the rain. You’ll discover it’s the perfect antidote for your too busy world.
Wow! That is beautiful! I’ve seen dangling leaves, before, but now I’ll pay more attention to see what is really going on. I always like to watch spiders, anyway.
I think the power of SLOW is catching on – as Seattle gets faster, and more crowded, we are going to need more open, quiet green spaces.