Every day before breakfast I take my dog for a walk. What riches. Sometimes I switch off my senses, but today I turn them on and just tune into whatever nature chooses to show me. I find myself doing this more and more often. No doubt it is a sign of ageing.
I hear two pairs of jackdaws chattering on the neighbours’ chimney stack. What are they talking about? Two blue jays are quarrelling in the withered alder buckthorn; our arrival disturbs them. A wren flies soundlessly through the ivy. A woodpecker beats out a drum roll on a tree trunk. It is enough to give you a crick in your neck! I walk over the flank of an ancient burial mound and wonder whether 4000 years ago a man-and-his-dog also walked here. To catch rabbits. As my dog wants to do. Some things never change. Reaching the holly, I stand still. The sun is shining directly on the leaves. They glisten in the morning sun. Their points seem to split the sunbeams and warm sunlight ripples over the leaves. You can see their enjoyment. I look in amazement at the bare silhouettes of two northern red oaks. The branches of one of them seem to have been grafted in a bunch onto a full-height tree; a little way above the ground the trunk of the other one is already starting to snake upwards.
Why? I absorb it all, for free. Sometimes I feel like a guest, sometimes a steward, but today I feel like the Unio Mystica, the fully-fledged participant. No separation between subject and object, something so important in science. I am enjoying nature and nature is enjoying me. ‘Come along my friend, let’s go home; breakfast is waiting,’ I murmur to my companion.
Kees van Veluw (57) teaches Permaculture and is active in organic agriculture networks. His vision stems from his work with African farmers, his networks with Dutch farmers, his family life with his wife, three sons, dog and chickens.