Slow Nature is catching on fast.
“Slow” Movements are really popular right now: Slow Food, Slow Fashion, Slow Parenting, and many more.
Now, there’s Slow Nature. (It’s about time, right?)
Slow Nature isn’t claiming there’s anything wrong with speeding through a forest or natural area. It’s fun to sail through a forest canopy on a zipline, hurtle over obstacles on a mountain bike, or run really fast on a trail. You get your exercise and your nature-fix all in one brisk outing. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
But, when you speed, you miss so much.
And in places where wild nature is scarce, it makes sense to reserve natural areas for, well, nature.
Connecting with nature in a meaningful way is the idea behind Slow Nature.
There are whole worlds in the layers of a forest, from gazillions of tiny microbes in the soil, to the massive, centuries-old cedars, hemlocks, and Douglas firs. But, you don’t need a pristine old-growth forest to practice Slow Nature. Most any natural area will do, even ones that have already suffered from invasive species. Slow Nature is not about pristine, it is about recognizing our fellow living beings: plants, animals, insects, and everything in between.
Connecting with nature happens when you slow down and look closely…
You don’t need to be an expert. You don’t need to know anything at all…just how to put one foot in front of the other and to keep your eyes open.
I found these tiny mushrooms huddled together like they were waiting for a bus in the rain. Hidden in the soil lives the mysterious fungus—the non-plant, non-animal being that sends up these “fruiting bodies” when it’s time to reproduce. Wikipedia tells me fungi are genetically closer to animals than plants.
Something to consider if you’re a vegetarian, I suppose.
Springtime is my favorite time in the forest—I love the joyful unfurling of the ferns. They make such cool spiral shapes. I’d love to see a time-lapse of this. Reminds me of those things you blow on New Years Eve.
There is even a lot to appreciate in the beautiful, sharp-tempered nettle. Look, but don’t get too close—she is covered with tiny, chemical-filled stinging needles. What a brilliant defense mechanism against nibblers! But, if you cook them, nettles are delicious—the needles lose their sting. I wonder how long it would take nettles to evolve cook-proof needles?
Practicing Slow Nature, you will sometimes see magnificent things that take your breath away…
Other times, you’ll see more humble things—or even those considered “bad” for one reason or another. But, aren’t they wonderful in their own way…if you look closely?
Connecting with nature is best done slowly.
You don’t need expensive equipment, just a good pair of walking shoes, and a good attitude. You can be any age, background, or income level. Slow Nature is fun, healthy, and essential for well-being.
Plus, slowly and quietly, you’ll have a much better chance of seeing wildlife, too. (I’ll save that for a future post).
But, one thing I can guarantee you will NOT see…
Forests—and natural areas in general—are no more dangerous than pretty much anywhere else. Even natural areas in cities. Especially in cities. If you need convincing, check your local crime/accident statistics. The real ones—not the hyped-up ones.
Join the Slow Nature Movement today!
Learn More About the Slow Nature Movement
(This is all there is so far – I just started it)
but…it wouldn’t be a movement without a Facebook Page – so I just started one. You can “Like” the page to keep up with new developments as they happen.
Help us preserve natural areas and greenspaces in Seattle.
Seattle Nature Alliance (join by “liking” our Page)
Read and Be Inspired
The Urban Bestiary, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
River-Walking Songbirds & Singing Coyotes, by Patricia K. Lichen
The Hidden Forest, by Jon R. Luoma
And yes…those are all photos, taken with my trusty ipod-touch and fluffed-up in Photoshop. Photos from forests in Seattle Park forests, and on the Olympic Peninsula.
You might also like:
Primordial Valentine – a video I made while spying on some sword ferns reproducing
Old Growth Forests – why I’m a forest creature
Forest Bath – another way to walk in nature
Forest Fright – To be afraid, or not to be?
Please leave your thoughts in a reply! I love hearing from you!
What a wonderful post!!!
Knobby puffballs, fantastic! You sound like me when I’m out there, heee. It’s such a basic, simple concept that seems to escape “civilized” humans these days — the return to Nature and slowing down to appreciate all its miniscule and vast beauties. It’s AMAZING what can be captured on the iPhone — I have mine out always too! I just adore your images.
Joining your FB page now — I’m never on FB, but I try to sneak on every now and then for the animal and nature groups (of course)! 🙂
Thanks, FeyGirl. Looking forward to running into you on FB!
Beautiful photos – love that you took them with your ipod! I’ve always been a fan of just being outside and observing. I love to hike, but I’d rather be turning over leaves and rocks to peek at who’s hiding underneath, or watching animals move through their environment. I feel people need to realize nature is where ever they happen to be – the city or the countryside – they just need to look. Thanks for your thoughts on the subject and I joined the FB group.
Thank you so much Leslie! Glad you are a fellow Slow Naturalist!
Denise, I love this. You’ve given me so much to consider but first I have to ponder the loveliness of your images. I’ll take some time to look at them again.
I didn’t use to practice slow nature. In fact, when I was younger, the only way I could put miles on my urban hikers was with the distraction of headphones.
It was when I started photographing wildlife that I slowed down. Now, my husband is about the only person I can hike with — because he understands the motivation behind plopping in a meadow for an hour and cutting the hike short.
This is somewhat related. In the Berkeley hills, in the fall, there’s a mass migration of California newts. They move (slowly) to the lower areas and ponds to mate and lay eggs.
One of the regional parks closes a major thoroughfare during this time to avoid crushing newts under tires. But, the poor newts still face the hazards of hikers and mountain bikers as they cross popular trails.
Even after adopting a slower approach to my forays, I almost stepped on one of these newts while hiking in the Berkeley hills. That experience, in the context of this post, consolidates for me the enormous benefit of everyone slowing down just a bit … to appreciate the mobile and immobile nature that we might otherwise miss or tramp upon.
Oh, and … I just barely got a Facebook photo page up and running (finally), but I included a link to this piece as my inaugural post, I love it so much, Denise. Thank you. https://www.facebook.com/WildBeatPhoto
Beautiful post – love the content, imagery and message. Just signed up to the facebook page. Thanks!
Thank you Claire! I like your blog too. Looks like we’re on the same track, even though we’re an ocean away. I think all over the world, people are realizing that many of our lifestyles are careening out of control. Time to slow down and reconnect!
Thanks Denise, and thanks for checking the blog out. Yes, I agree – so many people I talk to are in the same place, lots of rethinking going on. I’m finding slowing down and simplifying is turning out to be incredibly empowering and is getting a little bit easier the more I put it into practice. Look forward to reading more of your blog!
Thanks and take care, Claire
Yes slow and slower!