Almost every day I think it would be good to take a daily photo to show how the view changes through the seasons. But then I remember that I sit here every day and can see it for myself. Isn't it better to just gaze at it each day rather than glimpsing it through a lens?
Better still is to go outside and spend some time slowly discovering every new bud, each wildflower, notice the daily change in river levels and listen to the bird song. Sometimes it's simply enjoyable. On other days the pleasure is even greater. It can feel like an escape from the daily grind of news of wars and politics. It's an energy top-up or mood boost. Like any mood-enhancing drug, once you know it works, it's almost addictive. Luckily there's also the extra benefit that nature is always there and it costs nothing to just look.
More and more people are turning to 'nature's cure', recognising the power of spending time outdoors to make us feel better, more optimistic or simply to relax. Even when things aren't going to plan, it's very reassuring to watch the same tree gradually grow and unfurl its leaves in Spring, to become a home for insects and birds, to stand tall and strong through the year. Watching each little detail day by day brings tiny bursts of pleasure, that combine into a sense of contentment.
I recently bought a copy of The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell, as much for the illustrations as for her lyrical words. Her hand-drawn illustrations of flowers and birds are very satisfying and the photos of collections of finds such as shells, feathers and flowers on a wood or hessian background remind me of the school nature table, now recreated on my own window-sill. Each month she describes the delight in small details. How can we so easily forget these pleasures, or fail to recognise their importance?
Yesterday I read that the 'Calm' meditation app is now worth over £1billion, with over 40 million downloads. They're both incredible figures. I'm not sure what it means for the human race though? Is it good that more people understand the need to be still and just 'be' ,or bad that we need an app to do it? I wonder if this will mean more people eventually turn to nature to de-stress and feel better, or if they'll try to replace the uplifting sound of real bird-song with recorded versions?
When I was a teenager and felt a bit 'under the weather' my mum used to suggest I went for a walk. I'd grumpily set off, cross that she was dismissing whatever woes I had with the simple remedy of putting on my shoes and heading outside. But it does help. Now my own daughter is studying for A levels and I'm pleased to see how she takes a break by going outside for a while, sometimes commenting on things she's noticed when she comes back inside. Some doctors are now even prescribing walks.
The news has been full of environmental concerns, so hopefully more people will wake up and realise we need nature as much as nature needs us. Sometimes we only pay attention to ideas when they come from elsewhere or are written about in trendy lifestyle magazines. This is the case with the idea of 'Forest Bathing', an idea that originated in Japan where it is called 'shinrin yoku'. The idea is to spend time in woodlands (I'd certainly recommend a walk in Hackfall or Skipton Castle Woods), enjoying the therapeutic powers of nature to feel calmer and happier. My mum didn't give it a fancy name, but I'm glad she made me do it.