Slow sinking clump through compact white,
Polar wind carrying only muffled memories of sound
Like screwing up your ears through an eiderdown.
Face due North. End the cosy metaphor.

Close sounds. High pitched avian broadcasts
Speak of small bodied urgency cut to the bone.
The tree is festooned with birds on fatty garnish
Like an animated specimen case.

Then I see, just beyond the feeding ground,
Suspended, inverted, by single fuse wire foot,
A Blue Tit. Freeze frame enigma,
Its mate feather flaps a warning.
This is no acrobatic feat, no Parus circus –
Ice whips the threat of glacial shroud.

So with plume light touch, I collect the eleven grams
Into my igloo sleeve, heat transmitting.
One foot clings to palm flesh,
The other conducts the urge to follow.
Miracle of warmth, life force aligned.

Abruptly, the frantic flap of captive passerine.
Accordingly, it touches down atop the globe,
Hops along the top shelf of once read novels,
Is cornered on the pocket sized Collins Gems.

I am bird nurse turned jailer,
With impure thoughts of caging, studying, sketching.

But where every eight beat second counts,
In the clamourous foraging of abbreviated days,
The bird must fly to chance the glorious uncertainty.

By Lindsey Wakefield

blue titmouse in the winter forest

See Lindsey’s artwork at The Hayloft Gallery.
Photo by Evgenii Zadiraka

A Voice In Nature’s Choir

What can we learn from nature? From the gentle rustling of leaves; from the harmonious symphony of bird song; from the ever changing shades of forest green?

woman watching sunset at beachNature offers simplicity – a rest from incessant stimulation and mental exhaustion. It asks for our presence – for our mind’s attention to be aligned with our body’s location. If we stay long enough we can learn of our own simplicity, enabling ease of thought and mind.

Nature offers silence – a break from mechanical grinding and hammering metal. It asks for us to listen – for our senses to be dripping with curiosity. If we stay long enough we can learn of our own silent nature, lengthening the duration between thoughts and opening up space in our minds.

Nature offers a vacuum void of judgment – a respite from profiling and stereotypes. It asks for simple interactions guided by purity. With prolonged presence, we can learn of our non-judgmental nature, seeing things how they are instead of how we believe they should be.

Nature offers an alternative to greed – a recess from excessiveness and profligate waste. It asks for our competition to occur in the name of survival – to take only what is necessary. With enough time, we can learn of our own satiety, taking just what we need, no more and no less.

Nature’s lessons contain the essence of harmonious living. It embodies life’s playful, delicate equilibrium – responding to immediate necessity without ever rushing. We learn to join the chorus of life’s reciprocal rhythm, living in balance with ourselves, and all other beings which inhabit this more-than-human world.

senior couple in the parkwalking

I’ve come to understand these sentiments through prolonged study with a medicine woman, daily meditation practice, and repeated solitude in nature. As my perception evolves, so has my understanding. I’ve seen how our societies define nature as “the land” – viewed as human resources – which we develop only for our benefit. When we have an intimate relationship with nature, we no longer see it as “the land” needing “development.” Rather, we come to realize it as a flux of forces – continually flowering, fruiting, maturing, and breathing. Today, as I travel the world, I intend to learn from the wisdom of nature and its communities of life. I feel I am continually deepening my connection with the world’s inhabitants. I hope to use these sentiments to guide a disconnected Western world back home.

Western societies tell us happiness is something to develop: presently sacrificed in hopes of distant obtainment. But in nature, we realize the opposite. Happiness is not obtained through meeting specific conditions: building unnatural structures, sterilizing our surroundings, or obtaining external possessions. Rather, it is accessed when we have peace with our current situation; in union with the life around us in each and every moment.

If we wish to learn from nature, we must listen and be present, gradually deepening our relationship with the planet’s community of life. This relationship is the root of joy and love, the true source of happiness – formed of simple shared time and space.

In these modern times of senseless destruction, it is imperative that our youth take time to develop their own conception of what life means. Our future generations have an opportunity to learn from a completely different classroom, which offers astounding lessons. Nature-based education allows for transformation of their textual understanding into visceral perception and their analytical intelligence into practical wisdom. It offers a step away from the consumerist journey by placing them on the great internal journey. And, when children learn through personal experiences instead of cultural programming, they develop unique perspective outside of external dictations. Instead of having their experiences distorted by the theories of others, they learn to mold their theories according to personal experiences.

Finally, nature is transcendent. In a world measured by financial, technological and analytical productivity, we often become so captivated by thought that we forget about the present. Nature offers a gateway to the opposite – an opportunity to become so captivated with the present that we forget about thought. It enables a realization and transformation of the most primal parts of our being – our own wild nature.

“A Voice in Nature’s Choir” was distinguished as a top 64 essay in the Goi Peace Foundation’s international essay competition for young people which received over 15,000 submissions from over 150 countries.

Scott is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan. He is a traveler, writer, poet, photographer and full-stack storyteller. He finished his Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan in April 2016. During his degree, he was fortunate to take 11 classes on mindfulness and nature-based spirituality. He has taught meditation, yoga, nature-based mindfulness and helped to lead a large student wellness collective. After the completion of his degree, he was awarded the Bonderman Fellowship, a fellowship given to 4 graduating students to travel to and immerse in non-Westernized regions, alone, for 8 consecutive months. Since returning home Scott has been speaking to schools and publishing his writing and poetry. Above all, Scott cite’s his connection and the time he has in nature as the most important constructs in his life.

To read more, please visit or find him on Instagram @HaberScott.

Photo of woman at a beach by R. Merzliakov. Photo of couple walking in a park by satori.

Out of All, She Missed the Jungle Most

She lived in the city, but her soul belongs to the mountains.
She walked onto the concrete roads, but her feet yearn for the moss covered floor.
She felt deafened by the honking and waited to be drenched into the music of the leaves rattlin’.
She walks along the paved path by the riverside, while she secretly wished for the pebbled-shore.
Her thirst wasn’t quenched by the 2 glasses of water, on the other side – a sip from the river would quench her years of dryness.
She lay straight ― turned sidewise ― over turn, perhaps the woven bedding wasn’t as comfortable as the ice-cold marble rock over the cliff edge.
On the warm sunny day, she sat on a swing that swayed in the 4th-floor balcony, but hammock by the lakeside was imprisoned in her memories forever.
Her room was lit up with a series of fairy lights, but, Glow worm did a better job.
She was a daughter born into the city-hustle, but she’ll be a forest-child for eternity.

By Archie Patel

Original mixed media art

The Girl in the Woods. Original art by the author, Archie Patel.

Architect by profession, writer by passion, I love to explore the nature trails, and I volunteer at a local NGO with animal fostering. So, you’ll always find a part of nature living with me.If there is one thing that would define me it would be ‘a nemophilist by heart’. More of my work can be seen on my blog:

Firefly: Light My Way

I find solace in observing my natural surroundings in my front and back yard. My house is surrounded by vast fields with many trees, plants and wildlife. I even see wildlife and other sights that most city-dwellers don’t tend to see such as coyotes, deer and even simple starry nights. All things that I love most about living in a more rural environment.

Like most people, I enjoy warm summer nights with nothing but the stars and sweet sound of crickets chirping, yet I can’t help but find myself waiting for just one month in particular. In late May, early June, as the sun sets and the skies turn black, the fields are lit up with the soft glimmer of fireflies. They dance to the song of the crickets and cicadas and mimic the sweet glow of the stars above.

 real fireflies at a calm nightAs I listen to the sweet sounds of summer and watch the dance of the fireflies, I begin to feel nostalgic. The mere site of these fireflies bring me back to my childhood where everything was so simple. Where my life was filled with wonder and awe. Where I was ignorant to the cruelty and hate in the world. For how could such cruelty exist in a world so beautiful and pure?

I can recall a memory of mine that allowed me to feel an extreme sense of connectedness with the nature found in my own front yard. It was the night following a catastrophic event where I sat, lonely and confused on the stairs of my porch. I remember peering into the dark fields feeling comatose wondering how the world could be so callous. The world lay silent with the exception of the forlorn whispers of the crickets. Their ballad complimented the tear drops that lay atop the freshly cut grass. I remember a faint smell of firewood burning in the distance that could only be detected when the gentle breeze caressed my face. I gazed up into the night sky that was as black as a raven’s coat. I sat, staring up into the sky while recalling old memories of a departed friend. I wished so desperately to be able to capture the large, orange-tinted full moon and feel the warmth of the surrounding stars on my skin.

As the night progressed, the breeze became more apparent and the temperature dropped as low as my spirits. I began to look back to the fields at the tall arundo donax and golden rod that surround the perimeter of the field. The shadow of the feather-like appearance on the top of the cane’s stem complimented the soft silhouette of the golden rod’s florets. They swayed back and forth in conjunction with the breeze’s rhythm. Their leaves rustling in the wind as they brush up against each other so carefree and effortlessly. Like a mother shushing her crying infant as if to console it; as if to console me.

I am brought back to reality when I feel a gentle touch of a glowing object on my skin. I gaze at its body as it turns from a simple black insect to an alluring shade of fluorescent yellow. The firefly’s glow is like a bright, yet subtle star that flickers in the night sky. At that moment, I couldn’t help but think that the firefly was reminding me to appreciate the simple, natural splendors that this world has to offer. After a few seconds the firefly took flight and rejoined the others within the fields once again. Subsequently, I went to bed pondering my encounter with this gentle creature.
sunrise over fieldThe following morning, I awoke to the tune of a new song. It was around 5:30 am when I turned my head towards the window to see a small beam of light peeking through my window shades. The sky was beginning to transition from a dreary night to a new day. At that moment I remembered the firefly that reminded to me to enjoy the simple things in life. So although I was still mourning, I decided to take the firefly’s advice and venture back to the spot where I had laid so dejectedly the night before.

I sat with a plush blanket around my body like a tight-knit cocoon on the steps of my porch. I watched as the sun pushed through the darkness and out from the fields below. The base of the sky just above the fields was a light periwinkle that extended up and faded into the deep purple and blue sky. There were also some purple-grey clouds that looked like cotton balls that had been pulled apart and fluffed. The large, dark orange sun emerged from the horizon with its golden rays extending throughout the fields. As its rays stretched, the field began to light up and glow as bright as the firefly. The golden rod that was once just a silhouette became a vibrant yellow with a contrasting green base. The leaves and each floret were now distinguishable with a perfect balance of long, thin, green leaves to clusters of small, complex yellow flowers. Each plant beginning to look as though they had a halo of light radiating from its core.

As the remainder of the field began to turn from a dark green shadow to many different shades of greens, purples, browns and white were now able to be seen—as though a veil had been lifted. Bright purple thistle, Queen Anne’s lace, large tufts of grass, small maple trees and milkweed that were previously hidden became apparent with the glow of the sun—now fully over the horizon but still low in the sky. With the sun’s transition, the sky became a light shade of purple and blue with the sun a bright yellow.
sparrow on grren branch
The light then reflected off of the subtle drops of dew on the grass as if it were a blanket of light laid upon each blade. The sound of the crickets no longer sounded disheartened. They were loud and filled with various tones and patterns, countered by the sweet melody of the sparrow and her children. Her whistle provided sound to the beauty of the sun and nature around me. As I watched her fly to her nest made of tan coloured, dried grass and twigs, I got a glimpse of her body. Her body was a light brown with delicate hints of dark browns, blacks, whites and orange-browns within her back feathers. As she glided her way towards her nest, she was greeted by her children who had been anxiously awaiting her arrival.

At this moment, the world felt like it was in perfect harmony. A unity between every living creature and radiance of the sun. I started to feel a sense of love and admiration, whereas the night before, I felt lifeless and disconnected from the world around me. I now feel calm and connected. Connected to the sparrow providing her children with nutrients and warmth, to the thistles that are vibrant yet sharp to the touch and even to the sky that had become brighter with each passing moment.

As more time passed, I began to recall the moment where the firefly landed on my hand. The firefly showed me that even in dark times, a small glimmer of light can help you through it. Because behind a dark sheath, there lies a beautiful world full of numerous sounds, colours, textures and scents—all working together as a single entity. This moment of realization has now become one of the most memorable times of my life. As I grew older, I started to lose touch with the nature that surrounded me. I became so consumed in a world full of social media and work that I forgot the simple, natural beauty of the earth. But I have since regained my connection to environment and all living and nonliving things in it.

I continue to find peace and serenity in the fields surrounding my home. Not only is the land around me striking, but it also fills me with joy and nostalgia. I love to reminisce and share my childhood memories and other major events that have happened in my life with nature’s melodies playing in the background—whether it be crickets chirping, coyotes howling, birds singing or even the rustling of leaves. Every piece of nature with a distinctive colour, shape, size and smell all come together and create this safe haven for me.

I will always remember and return to the spot where I have seen the most amazing natural marvels that are so dear to my heart. As for the fireflies; they will return next year and I will be looking forward to their long awaited arrival. Though here for such a short period of time, I find myself most connected to them each and every year.

I would like to say thank you to the firefly that was the light to one of my darkest days and for helping me, once again, find beauty within nature. Thank you for helping me regain my connection with the world and most of all, thank you for helping me find myself.

Photos by Fernando Gregory Milan, Sitthipong Inthason, and Grzegorz Gust

The Soothing Power of the Wild Sea

Last month, for a certain period of time my mind had not been by itself. Like a boat tumbling through the cyclonic wind, my subconscious was caught up in a storm of thoughts. The cause of this was a delay in the occurrence of a particular event that I had been waiting for. At the moment, this event was taking longer than I expected or desired, and as a result I’d fallen prey to a restlessness inside my head. Nothing I did was able to keep my mind at peace. I was desperate to find a way to get over this anxious, and absolutely unnecessary, overflow of thoughts.

One evening, to appease myself of this internal war, I decided to spend an evening at the sea. After getting down the tram, I walked to the shore and stood near the railing at the beach, and around me were a plethora of shopping outlets and restaurants. The sea shore was lively as always, filled with people, their pets, and athletes immersed in various water sports. Despite looking at all of this, something inside me didn’t click today.

Instead of moving towards the shore full of people enjoying a relaxed evening, I took a turn that lead me away from the pier, the most loved spot at the beach of Scheveningen in Den Haag. I didn’t want to see the face of the sea that wore an urban makeup and was loved by many in the city, at times, even by myself. Today, I wanted to see a different face of the sea. I craved a glimpse of rawness in nature. Hence, I walked towards the other end of the beach, the end with a mole elegantly extending a few hundred metres into the sea, hosting a lighthouse at its edge.

the North Sea and lighthouseThere were large square shaped rocks on either side of the mole, and at the foot of these rocks, petty tides rose and fell playfully, like a child dancing to a tune of its own. The view of the sea from the vantage point of lighthouse was perfect, and raw, just the way I needed it today. Standing in front of an element of nature, this unending expanse of water, I felt a vague truthfulness in the sight that filled my vision. There was a slender movement upon the surface of the sea – wind was walking swiftly over water, creating long and beautiful ripples which, in turn, transformed into large tides when approaching the shore. The sight was hypnotic. I couldn’t turn my glance away from the happening of this soft romance between wind and water.

As I stood there for nearly an hour and kept looking into the far fetched sea, and the horizon that it created with the sky, and the many ships that were journeying at a long, long distance from where I stood, an unconscious calmness slowly made its way into my heart. The evening sky was slowly turning gloomy with the gathering of dark clouds. In a few moments, the entire sea seemed to be wrapped in a fairy tale-ish darkness, and a slender drizzle started to fall from another world. As these little drops of rain touched me, I walked back to the road at the beginning of the mole, and on the way, I turned and looked back at the endless spread of the sea, as if to satiate myself of an unknown thirst. I reached the hill-like construction with benches, and stairs leading to the road that connected to the trams, and I felt the absence of something in myself. The troubling and anxious thoughts weren’t floating at the top of my mind anymore. As if a bodily pain had been tranquilized, my anxious thoughts also seemed to have vanished, leaving me with a serene calmness. I wasn’t sure when this soothing had crept in me. I did not notice it all this time. I did not become aware of the settling of that buzz inside my head, a burden that I brought with me this evening to the sea to plead refuge.

I made my way back to the tram-stop with a sense of ease filled inside me, and my purpose of visiting the sea this evening was fulfilled.

Photo by the author