Can you do something wild everyday for a month?
This is what The Wildlife Trusts asked us this past June and I eagerly took up the challenge. What appealed the most was the simplicity of it. We weren’t asked to ascend mountains or head into deserts to enjoy wildness. Instead we were encouraged to open our eyes, ears, and nose to the small wildness around us. Living in London, it is very easy to lose track of nature. Yes, parks are littered all over the city and canals criss-cross the urban sprawl but in every day life it is easy to forget about them. And I am too often guilty of this. I have a park and canal conveniently placed between my workplace and home and yet I almost never venture along their green paths, preferring the way home via the main road. All for the sake of time gained. But gained for what? For a few more minutes of writing up e-mails and browsing the Internet. This is not worth it. So in June, I made a point to walk home through the park more often. I did not do it everyday but I meandered in at least once a week. I paid more attention to the little spots of green around my neighboorhoud, picked up books about nature to understand my surroundings better and started to identify my local trees. There is something immensely satisfying at being able to identifying a tree. By attributing them a species they became more familiar, like people acquiring names and emerging from an anonymous crowds. I was lucky enough to visit Northern Ireland for a few days. I splashed about in the water of every lake and beach I could find. I even went as far as taking a swim in my underwear in the freezing Atlantic. It was bracing and vivifying, a guaranteed grin on my face, and a pleasure to dry under the warm sun. I took long walks with my partner’s family – aiming to get to know them but losing myself in the immensity of pine trees and lagging behind more often than not. I paused in parks during my weekly crisscrossing of London on my bike, taking the time to appreciate the effort the city is putting in incorporating nature in between concrete and metal blocks. I read outside, I watched cygnet enjoy their early swims in ponds and rivers and saw baby coots go from eggs to chicks. I listened to bird songs throughout the day, I slept with my window wide open and woke up with the sun piercing through the leaves of my tree. And I slowed down. Life became more pleasurable and my days more memorable. The challenge is over now but I will do my best to keep its lessons alive and walk the long way home more often. I have after all pledged to #StayWild.