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Spring energy

Updated: Mar 8

It's the time of year...this was how I planned to start the blog today as I mulled it over whilst washing the breakfast dishes. Spring is in the air. Yes, this was definitely the route I was going down, but somehow the words sounded familiar, wheels turning in the back of my head as I opened my laptop and skimmed through my emails. Then suddenly I realised, this wasn't a carefully chosen phrase from an esteemed author writing about nature, they are the first two lines from the Spitting Image hit "The Chicken Song" - and on your own heads be it, if you click that link. I already know that I am going to be humming it for weeks.

Everything does seem better when the sky is blue and the sun is shining, potentially even that song. But there isn't much better than the first signs of Spring, and it really is Spring now we're into March. The debate continues to rage in our house as to when exactly Spring should be celebrated; I remain a fan of the Equinox celebration, but I also appreciate the neatness of dividing the months into seasons. Whatever you decide, March is a great month for noticing nature because there is so much to be noticed. Whether that is a glorious sunrise, for a while happening at a respectable time, watched from your window; birdsong reverberating down the chimney; daffodils flowering in the garden, or a sunny walk in the park where you happen to notice the first tiny pink hazel flower. I know it feels like we only just celebrated New Year, but I think there could be a movement for celebrating the start of March as the new year, finally waking up from our winter hibernation. I noticed a slender book on my shelf this morning that I've not looked at for ages. Called "A Short Guide to a Happy Life" it's part of a commencement speech by Anna Quindlen that she never delivered. As suggested by the title, it's full of ways to invite happiness into your life.

"Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines."

I've long been disappointed in my poor ability to identify birds of prey (note that we're off the hook with the red-tailed hawk which is a native of North America) but this problem was solved for me by Lisa Olivera who recently wrote a manifesto of sorts "How do I keep going?" on her Substack: "Yell 'BOP!' whenever you see a Bird of Prey perched somewhere, even if it's only you in the car." This made me very happy when I spotted a BOP in a tree out at Langlands Moss Local Nature Reserve at the weekend. A great place to go for a dose of nature, and one of the recommendations in our forthcoming Nature Prescription. For a preview do check out the work that Healthy and Active in East Kilbride have been doing supporting people to connect to nature using a local EK nature prescription developed with the RSPB.

Spring does bring with it a lot of positive energy and as we move towards the new financial year there are a couple of exciting projects launching that I want to draw your attention to, one focused in North Lanarkshire and one in South.

On Thursday 11th April, Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire are launching the North Lanarkshire Community Climate & Green Wellbeing Project. This event will mark the official launch of the work that they have been doing over the last year to develop a series of guides to running green projects and will be used to promote the climate action pledge to the North Lanarkshire community and voluntary sector to support engagement and ongoing participation. You can find out more and sign up here.

In South Lanarkshire we are thrilled to announce the continuation of Get Outdoors South Lanarkshire funded by Smarter Choices Smarter Places, which is Paths for All’s programme to increase active and sustainable travel throughout Scotland. The programme is grant-funded by Transport Scotland. Paths for All is a charity and is the champion of everyday walking in Scotland. Their vision is for a happier, healthier Scotland where physical activity improves quality of life and wellbeing for all. We've got some exciting things planned with more Go Jauntly walks, led walks, mapping exercises and some sessions in greenspaces supporting kids to design their own trails and walks.

As I'm about to click publish on this post it is International Women's Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of woman and working towards a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. Yesterday at the Living Streets UK Walking Summit we heard how women walk more and they catch buses more than men, however still they are largely the forgotten modes of transport. Yet, a key policy for a greener and more sustainable world should be one that prioritises walking, wheeling and cycling for everyone. Walking is really good for us both physically and mentally. It also allows us time and space to connect with nature. As part of Get Outdoors South Lanarkshire we'll be looking at routes to encourage people to make some of their every day journeys on foot rather than in the car, around health care facilities, community centres and other key local venues. There'll be more information coming soon on our social media and here on Get Outdoors Lanarkshire.

In everything we do, we want to continue helping you connect to nature. As the new mission statement for the Lanarkshire Green Health Partnership says: we believe in the health-giving benefits of nature connection and outdoor activity for both people and planet. Go Jauntly published a fantastic blog in February titled "Nature Connection: A Necessity in the Face of the Climate Crisis." In it they explain how everyday nature connection, those moments when you notice a dandelion growing between the cracks in the pavement or a spectacular sky, helps humans act in a way that takes care of the earth, and how this is getting ever more crucial. You can read the full blog here. And just in from the University of Derby's Nature Connectedness Unit is a new policy briefing, looking at how nature connection should be a pillar of a sustainable future. Read more about it on Miles Richardson's blog where you can also download the briefing.

I'll leave you with more of Anna Quindlen's words, as a reminder of nature connection in action:

"Look around at the azaleas making fuschia star bursts in spring; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black sky on a cold night."

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