Many of the Sensing Nature interviews have explored people’s physical experiences of nature. However, a different type of encounter is also emerging as important within the interviews; an encounter that involves imagination and creativity, often using memories to ‘place’ oneself in nature in a way that brings a sense of wellbeing in lieu of physically visiting at any one moment in time.
For some people, this has involved listening to recorded nature sounds, Clare Balding’s radio ramblings, or even classical music compositions inspired by nature. Others with partial sight have discussed a love of photography and painting, using the opportunity to zoom into and ‘live’ in a favourite scene for a little longer than they might otherwise. Creative writing and poetry have also been mentioned as a way of capturing particularly memorable nature pleasures and escapades.
We would like to share a poem here that has been sent to us by a sight impaired cold water sea swimmer, written after embarking on her first paddle boarding adventure!
A paddle poem by Susan Harrod
A warm summer's day, glassy sea and sun shining bright,
My son and I were ready for a real sea delight.
Six foot four he balanced serenely on his sea-blue paddle board,
Barely a wave disturbed this competent sea lord.
I walked in beside him, then started an amazing swim,
Using my Alexander technique glide, I kept fairly near to him.
My dear husband followed us from the soft, cream sand,
He preferred to keep his feet dry, this landlubber man.
We progressed parallel to the Bournemouth coast,
Houses worth millions, sparkled and seen by most.
For me all was a blur, except for my sea lord nearby,
We chatted when near, but sometimes he flew by.
The warm water caressed and supported me so well,
I felt like a paddle board groupie, as I followed it close as I could tell.
After 500 metres an invite from my sea lord came to me,
He asked if I would like to paddle his mighty board back in the sea.
He stood, holding this blue dancing sleek belle, as it mirrored the swell,
I climbed on top and it bounced around like a filly, a balancer’s hell.
I gradually adjusted and sitting astride, carbon fibre paddle in hand,
How easy would it be I wondered, to get back to my landlubber man!
I was alone, gliding slowly along, trying to avoid going further out to sea,
Oh, no, funny shapes were bobbing up and down in front of me.
I had paddled into a roped-off swimming site.
So now had to paddle out into the deep to find my way – what a fright.
On the shore my men were concerned for me, in my fuzzy myopic world,
I tap the buoys with my paddle, and find my way around – good old girl.
I keep my cool, no panic, just paddled back from the deep,
It would be nice to close my eyes, lie down on the board and sea sleep!
When I swim in the sea, I usually finish with a star float,
But, this is different as I am in charge of a flat boat.
I wonder if one day I could actually learn to paddle and stand,
But poor balance and sight, means probably ending face down in the sand!
I look towards the beach, all figures such a blur on this distant shore,
Then I see two tall shapes waving out to me, my men I am sure.
I paddle as hard as I can, the rhythm going well for this novice boarder,
Only the splash of a paddle and the board flexing, all is in order.
Soon I am nearly back, as the sea lord strides out to me,
Oh what fun this trip was for this old gal on the sea.
So it is possible with blinkered sight to still have fun,
Thank you for believing in me, my sea lord son.