Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting up in person with my colleagues, some of them for the first time since 18th March 2020. The venue, Chatelherault. After the formal gathering, I headed off for a walk to enjoy some nature and ended up visiting the Cadzow Oaks. It seems impossible to think that these trees are over 700 years old and have seen so much more than any single human will. It's not just a site for nature though, this has been a place that humans have inhabited too. It was a site for hunting back in the 1700s, but long before that it is thought that the earthworks are part of a fort, and indeed a Roman coin was found there as part of some archaeological excavations.
Over the last week I have been thinking hard about what green health actually means, and have established that it really does mean different things to different people. I'm not really a "gym bunny" so I bristle slightly when I hear it being equated to a visit to outdoor exercise equipment. Absolutely, if that is your thing, go for it, and of course it is good for you. Exercising outside really is better for you than just hitting the gym, physical activity outdoors lowers a person's blood pressure and heart rate. As a result, exercise outdoors feels less strenuous than similar exercise indoors. Additionally exercising near blue space - the sea, lakes, rivers, is even better again if you are lucky enough to live close by.
Whilst wandering at Chatelherault I bumped into one of the countryside rangers and had a chat with him about making green health as inclusive as possible, and was surprised by his suggestion. I was waxing lyrical about nature connection particularly its links to art, and how excited I was for there to be more opportunities like the Drawing on Green Spaces project that he had been involved with in Hamilton. (Note that there is an upcoming session to discover some of the wide variety of butterflies, moths and insects.) He then reminded me not to forget about all the people that are involved in, and opportunities that are provided by archaeology and heritage. He was on his way to strim a site in preparation for an archaeological dig. I hated history at school (or rather I disliked the teacher) and so my historical knowledge is absolutely woeful unless you want to know about the Corn Laws (1815), but I was excited to think about yet another reason that people might want to get outdoors, slow down and use their senses. There's a really interesting article here about an archaeology project helping veterans with PTSD. I hope to hear more about the project at Chatelherault goes and that it might provide us with opportunities for new people to get involved. The website is still under construction, but you can keep up to date with what Clutha Archaeology are doing here.
I'm convinced that everyone has something that will tempt them outdoors to connect with nature, but I also know that there are thousands of people who are really unsure about going outside at the moment with the lifting of covid restrictions. If that's you, can I point you to something that is helping me connect with the sea from the comfort of my own front room. As a long time fan of The Nature Library, throughout the first lockdown I keenly followed the social media of its founder, Christina Riley. Relocating to Troon in March 2020, she started a daily ritual of walking the beach looking for things that caught her eye, as a way to distract for the stress and anxiety of the pandemic. From March until July she posted daily The Beach Today photographs on her website, and the book of her photos has just been published by Guillemot Press. It's a beautiful piece of art and I am thrilled to have it to browse in times of stress and sea deprivation. I also recommend that you follow her on twitter to keep up with The Beach Today II for more glorious sea and pebble photos.
I leave you with a quote in the front of The Beach Today from Kathleen Jamie, that I take as an encouragement to go outside and really look for the small things: the acorns, the pebbles, the Roman coin buried beneath the earth for hundreds of years, whatever fascinates you:
If inattention is slowly killing the world, then attention might just save it.