So here's ten ideas ...
1) Share Poems, Words, Stories, Songs
Yes we have done and will do a lot of all of all this with our Walks in the Woods.
These inspired and expressive arts do wonders to help hesitant folks be inspired to write and share their words, have an audience that will listen to them and have a calm mind to listen to what others express and share.
2) Power Walking and Jogging
Some folks feel this is really what a healthy Green Prescription in the forests is all about. There are many people who do assertive movement about the forests to get their aerobic engines going, get their metabolic rates moving, tone muscles, burn fat, loose weight, increase stamina ...
Phew, I'm worn out just writing about it.
3) Mountain Biking and Skateboarding
Taking the power walking and jogging concepts up a few notches through using mechanical faster transporting aids to enjoy the excitement, the adventure, the adrenalin, why not ???
4) Yoga, Mindfulness, Visualization, Tai Chi
Enjoyed, or would be enjoyed, by many people who prefer a calm connection to the forest, accompanied with verbal silence rather than sharing of words. I firmly believe that these and other holistic practices are not totally fulfilled when engaged within a human created building. Holistic to me is being at one with what is in the forests too ... by actually being in the forests and not imagining you are there
As I write this, it arouses memories of meditation facilitators, guiding outdoor sessions, asking us to close our eyes and then imagining going through doorways, cellars, through rooms, sitting on chairs, admiring the wall decor maybe and all kinds of human created imagery. Sorry, I start laughing if this happens.
5) Painting, Drawing, Photography
This has a lot of potential to pool ideas of what most people like to do. People love pictures and creating pictures. Though I find it odd that some people prefer connection to trees through pictures rather than be around them, I do find there is something in being around forests to create pictures to take home.
Its not about the acquiring of pictures but the support, community and companionships of sharing ideas and techniques together to capture personal interpretations of sight and other senses.
Pictures are a snapshot of a moment to take home, share, maybe treasure and sometimes to dispose of, a benefit of digital records, I suppose.
I look forward to any comments on this, as I think this is quite an item to share, debate and explore from various sides.
6) Identifying Trees & Plants ... and go Foraging
This is very rewarding when people are together doing this.
Despite my many years of passion with the woodland I am still often puzzled during some identifications, but someone in the group knows what;s there and it is shared.
This is very useful in early spring when the man identification means are twigs, fallen leaves and maybe buds.
There's no "I know more than you, na, na, na ..."
This is a shared discovery to wider understanding for everyone.
Someone will say "I use this for ....."
and someone else will say "and I also use this for"
and we all get to know a tree, plant or herb so much more than alone
or trying to look up a book or smart phone app..
Early evening forest walks for bat watching are becoming more and more popular through June and July too.
Taking identification further is to enjoy what folks call 'foraging'
Through spring and early summer this is for new young leaves and blossoms that can be included in Picnic Food, and for taking home to prepare pastes, preserves, syrups, dried herbs, oils, tinctures, teas and balms.
During the summer and early autumn this becomes fruit collection and eventually nuts.
Late autumn this becomes nuts and seeds that some people like to use to germinate plants to replant out. This is something encouraged by Native Woodland Trust to obtain local supplies of seeds to grow more local stock for their forests.
Foraging needs a lot of care and responsibility. Think sustainability and only take a small amount of the bounty available, and the most mature.
I use this as a loose term for a bunch of activities such as
- having fun with compasses, maps and these days with gps aids
- following paths and watching sun direction and shadows
- seeking out ancient sites such as fairy rings and sacred wells
- identifying paw and claw marks and following wild animal tracks
8) Whittling and Wondering
Once said to be a man's craft, but a lot of women now get joy from this.
Using a pen knife and fallen twigs and small branches spend relaxing time pouring expression and contemplation into the wood.
While doing this talk of ways to share the forests with more people, conserving forests, setting up community woodlands along with dreams, desires and ideas of what these could be like and what these could do.
More an autumn time activity, collecting up fallen seeds with the intent of planting them to germinate them and create tree plants for future group and community planting.
Share with each other skills and idea for doing this with each of the different tree seeds.
10) Share a Picnic
Ah, this is my favourite pastime in the forests :-)
The friendship and fellowship is always amazing when we settle down to share and savour the goodies of a picnic table, or two, or three, depending n group size. The forest is like a neutral space. Nobody is in charge, no expectations and no follow the leader. Its as if nobody owns anything.
The conversations, debates, creative ideas, and lots of humour shared are always amazing.
Everyone is a an audience and performer. Listening and sharing is abundant. This is also an opportunity to explore local food sources and brings them along in some for for the picnic tables.
11) Clear Litter From The Forests
We come across litter, brand packaging, in the most surprising places in the forests. Often the most is found in the most sacred of places such as by natural springs and wells, ancient trees, and at ancient stones that people are attracted to gather around.
I pondered over the idea of us venturing through the woods with some kind of bagging, basket or conainer to pick and and remove this litter but my daughter Ivy linked me to an amazing service that could take removing litter a few steps further into ways of preventing it happen in future.
The online service is 'Litterati' that utilizes the Instagram and Google Maps services to reveal litter impacts around the world, when people use the service. This could be very helpful for campaigns to reduce and eliminate litter.
I am going to do a separate blog post about Litterati in the Forests but, meanwhile,
12) Dowsing & Divining
Dowsers, or diviners, use forked hazel sticks or willows, or dangle their favourite crystals or gold rings, or bring along bent coat hangers or bent copper rods.
What these would be used for in a forest is really down to the Dowser or Diviner's interpretation. Most common is the seeking of underground water flows with the chance of locating a natural fresh spring where this water surfaces. Some use these tools to seek 'treasures' which can be buried metals and remains of buildings from long ago. .
In the forest some people may be motivated to seek for fae presences, and other unseen interpretations.
There seems to be a thin line in interpreting the difference between Dowsing and Divining. Dowsing is said to be the practice of determining the unknown using personal psychic abilities as a guide. Divining is said to be the calling of a guide to show 'the way', and some speak of this as 'asking the universe'.
Because of its own unseen nature some will say that it is Dowsing and Divining that bring the other 1q activities together. I will leave you to work out that for yourself, if you wish ...