Here in Argyll, I would describe my home on the Scottish West Coast as surrounded by the sea; others would emphasise the beauty of the surrounding hills, mountains or forests. All of us, I’m sure, however, would describe ourselves as incredibly lucky to live in such an inspiring part of the world.
Although the sea is, without doubt, my favourite place to be, it only just beats the woods and forest. I was brought up in Kent and lived very close to ancient woodland filled with massive oaks and elm, beech and birch woods intermixed with native pine. Now, I have the sea and porpoise to the front of the house, and woods and red squirrels to the rear. Really quite wonderful and despite being here for more than two decades, I still count myself as terribly fortunate to have found such a place.
In many ways, both the woodland and coast inspire mindfulness in a similar way. The constant undercurrent of noise, be it either the breaking waves or rustle of leaves. The ever-changing mood, the way a route along a beach or through a wood can be walked; but never the same route twice. Either the weather has changed, the time of day or light is different; or more importantly you, yourself are not the same.
Different thoughts pass through your head, maybe at a certain spot you become mindful of the underlying ambience of the place and you ‘take a moment.’ The noise of daily thought is replaced with birdsong; the crackling of leaves, the smell of soil and an awareness of yourself within this natural setting develops. It becomes ‘your’ woods or beach; I’m still not sure whether we adopt the wood and beach or it is us who have been adopted. Either way, they are places we should look after.
Here are a couple of links to people who feel strongly about looking after our woodland: