Welcome to our 2015 Advent Calendar series (#AFONAdvent)! For each day in the lead-up to Christmas, we have a post from an A Focus On Nature member on this year’s Advent theme: “The Gift of Giving”. We hope that you enjoy the series and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Goodness me, we have already come to the final post of our AFON Advent series, and what an adventure it has been.
Such a range of topics have been discussed, but there is one I would like to focus on. This topic is particularly apt at Christmas – ‘The Gifts Of Connection, Memories And Friendship’.
Connecting With Nature
A popular topic with our members, from a close encounter with a buzzard or meeting a family member’s “family” of badgers, there are plenty of stories where bloggers share those wildlife memories – usually experiences that have inspired them to become the naturalists and conservationists they are today.
Whether it is already one of the happiest days, or one where you are suffering the depths of depression, a special moment of connecting with nature can uplift (almost) everyone. As someone who has experienced the latter, I can confirm that it makes such a difference to one’s mood. The swift and unexpected fluttering of a butterfly (or better yet, a moth!), will lift the mood. The pleasant trill of birdsong from above is both delightful and intriguing. And of course, the sheer pleasure of walking through nature itself.
Connecting With Others
The aforementioned badger memory is a wonderful example of how nature can enable us to connect more deeply with those around us. In that example, it was with family members, and I have my own familial memories where nature has brought us together. Climbing Mount Snowdon with my dad when I was 8 years old, I remember the glorious sunshine, the beautiful landscape and cooling my feet in a wonderfully cold stream. In addition, I remember that we talked almost all the way up and all the way down. That’s around 8 hours of talking, and being out in nature together. I cherish the memories still.
Wildlife can bring friends together too, and better yet, it can help with the formation of friendship. Thinking of my friends who aren’t naturalists, I still have memories of when nature helped us connect. A few years ago, I took an old school friend to a local agricultural college and gardens. We delighted in watching birds (particularly a beautiful blackbird) and discovering the stunning flora of the grounds. In the summer just gone, we met up again when I was working Dorset and I had the wonderful joy of introducing her to Chesil Beach and the Isle of Portland – especially one of my favourite nature reserves where we found butterflies and moths in excellent numbers and diversity, and a superb Great Green Bush-Cricket. During this time, we also caught up on each others’ news and chatted about life, the universe and everything in between.
And of course, this is where A Focus On Nature can come in. If you are part of the Facebook group, attended an event or blogged for us, you’ll know that the amazing network can help people to connect. I can easily message a fellow member, who I have never met (yet), in a completely different part of the country to talk about the latest wildlife I have spotted. Or get to meet someone for the first time at an event that AFON has organised, or attended, from where our friendship can have its roots and grow from. I know I am not the only one to feel this way thanks to the ability of AFON to connect people together through our love of nature. And on a particularly personal note, AFON and nature can help romantic relationships to blossom. A gift that I can’t thank either enough for.