30 Days Wild & the Five Pathways

The idea behind 30 Days Wild is to do one thing in nature each day in June. It takes place every year, and in this post I’m writing about my experiences in 2022. I think that year was the first time I logged something every day. Maybe that’s because it was easier in some ways, as I was working outdoors at Itchen Valley Country Park, surrounded by nature. But as my other recent blogs have shown, there is plenty of nature in urban and suburban areas, too.

When I took part, I didn’t think about the five pathways to nature connectedness, but now that I’m working for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust on the Wilder Southampton project, they’re on my mind much more. The pathways are: senses, emotion, beauty, meaning and compassion, and I thought it would be interesting to look back at my 30 things, to see if there were any pathways I’d taken more than others.

Some of the things meander across several pathways, such as this jay feather. Sense-wise, I saw and touched it, and it’s something I see beauty in. Possibly though, the most distinct path is emotion because it sparked a real ‘wow’ feeling, which for me is often brought on by something unusual. It also caused envy because someone else saw it first and I really wanted it!

Quite a few of my acts of wildness reflected my compassion. Above you can see the grave I made for a dead mole, and on the first day, I rescued a bee from a cycle path. I recorded two litter picks of green places – litter picks for me are usually about making a place better for wildlife, such as by removing plastic bags and wrappers so birds, hedgehogs and foxes can forage. Providing homes for wildlife is another act of compassion, seen here in the swift nest box and the hedgehog shelter. I also created a stag beetle habitat by sinking logs into my garden, as the grubs need rotting wood. The eighth act of compassion was to make butterfly feeders.

The swift nest box also takes me along the pathway of meaning. Swifts returning in May are a part of nature’s calendar, and something I really look forward to, so even in April I’m checking the Hampshire Swifts group to see if they’ve started arriving. Then I add ‘mine’ to Swiftmapper, and look to see if there are nest sites in my area. They also evoke an emotional response, of anticipation and anxiousness, then excitement and sheer joy when I see they are back. It’s not only the seeing though, it’s the hearing those ‘screaming parties’ as they zoom over at roof height, so it’s also about senses. Because they’re only here for the summer, swifts carry added meaning. Given all this, it’s not surprising they featured three times in my 30 Days Wild.

Looking through my photos, those related to senses were often about seeing, but four involved touch. This photo shows a damaged Long Tailed Tit nest. It was clearly destroyed, so I knew I wouldn’t be disturbing the birds by touching it. It was lined with hundreds of feathers, making it really soft, and the outside was made of moss and lichen, held together with spiders’ webs. Delicate, yet strong.

I also used touch during the wildflower surveying I took part in – some plants have rough or hairy leaves, for example, so this can help you to identify them. The five pathways don’t include naming and measuring – facts and figures – as these things alone aren’t always a way to a lasting connection with nature. But for me, part of surveying wildflowers, or taking part in a bioblitz at Peartree Green, is about looking closely – and touching, listening, and sometimes sniffing or tasting, appreciating the beauty and diversity, and just the sheer amazingness of nature! At the bioblitz, where people gather to log everything they can find in one day, if I find a fungus or a beetle that hasn’t been recorded before, I feel a rush of adrenalin. I might not know what it is, or be able to tell it apart from something similar, but that doesn’t matter to me – someone else can do that! So there is emotion there, and compassion too, because showing which species are present might be significant in protecting that place one day. Meaning is another pathway travelled through surveying or citizen science, because the time of year is significant in knowing what you might expect to see. And of course, there is beauty to be found in surveying, if you take a moment to just admire a flower as well as measuring it and counting its petals! Often though, if I see something new to me, I like to find out more about it, as was the case with the gall below (made by an aphid). The first time I saw a pill woodlouse rolled up, I thought it was a bead until I watched it uncurl. Amazing.

As I reflect on my 30 Days Wild, and read over this post, it seems that beauty might be my path less travelled. I think that’s because I’m curious and noticing something tends to sparks lots of questions, so out come the books. Perhaps it would be good for me to do more of this for 2023’s 30 Days Wild: crouch down and look at a rocky shore. The patterns, the colours, the shapes. This just caught my eye and I wanted to capture it. It’s still beautiful now.

3 thoughts on “30 Days Wild & the Five Pathways

  1. Really lovely post. I’m a nature lover and Shinrin Yoku Forest therapy guide. I really loved reading thru this blog post! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello! I’m so glad to “meet” you! I honestly just love reading your blog. It’s so “real” and I think in this world of “filters” ( which I’m sick of) reality is such a breath of fresh air! I just got my certification as a guide and I’m thinking about doing a kids summer camp that involves learning English in the form of Shinrin Yoku….


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