Yesterday I had to drive across Glasgow city centre. I've barely used my car in the last year and I almost never drive in the city because there is rarely any need, but yesterday happened to be one of those times. It had been a glorious day, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, every park and greenspace I passed was buzzing with people and dogs and presumably also bees! A perfect day to be out and about in the city, if that's your sort of thing. As I was heading home I drove over the squinty bridge, there was a fair bit of traffic so I was sitting for a while looking out towards Festival Park. It's one of my favourite parks in Glasgow although I don't go there very often. I am weirdly obsessed with the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival even though I knew nothing about it at the time, although I was at the Liverpool Garden Festival that had happened a few years earlier in 1984. Festival Park is one of the last remnants of the festival still in Glasgow with the remains of the Highland river, lochan, and waterfall feature. The Clydesdale Bank Tower resides in Rhyl, North Wales, and yes I have been to visit it! The park is not particularly special but to me it feels like a secret, and whenever I am there I carry in my head the images of the sunshine and the crowds attending the festival.
Side note: the park is home to a Peace Pole, carrying the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in English and three other languages. The Peace Pole Project started in 1955 in Japan and is promoted by The World Peace Prayer Society. The first peace poles outside Japan were constructed in 1983 and there are now over 100,000 spread over 180 countries.
Anyway, as I sat at the traffic lights, I looked up and saw a small dash of rainbow across a lone cloud in the sky. I was able to snap a quick picture and when I got home I sent it to my rainbow friend with a short message "what is this?" Her reply came quickly: "Oooh! That, my friend is a watergaw!" And with that I was away to google! She was indeed right, it's a Scottish word for broken rainbow, there is even an eponymous poem by Hugh McDiarmid, from which a quote:
"A broken shaft of a rainbow with its trembling light"
Recently as I have been learning more about nature connectedness I keep reminding people that you can connect to nature through the dandelion growing between the paving slabs, and by the way, what a riot of dandelions there are at the moment. But this was a great reminder that we need to remember to look up as well as down. It was also a moment of pure awe, an emotion that nature can inspire in us, if we remember to take the time to experience it. Seeing the watergaw took my breath away, and I have been able to experience that feeling again when I shared it with my friend afterwards and now with you. In the words of Miles Richardson from the University of Derby Nature Connectedness department: "Rather than conquering the outdoors, find awe and wonder in being there." And you can do this in the city from your car, in a traffic jam.
I am writing this on Earth Day. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and over 50 years on EarthDay.org is working with more than 75,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet. The world needs transformational change and Earth Day helps to drive a year of energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to create a new plan of action for our planet, and I think this year, more than ever is a time to make that change. Connecting to nature and helping other people connect to nature, ensures that more and more people want to take action for the sake of the earth, so this Earth Day let's commit to 12 more months of supporting people to get connected with nature.