This is different – a different opportunity

As another August morning dawned, we knew we’d hit on another good weather day for our outing to Rainton Meadows, Nature Reserve, County Durham. Taking a group of 26, mothers and children, we descended onto the nature reserve on mass and immediately took over the place. But not in a bad way but in a feeling of belonging. The children after an extra long bus ride were happy to jump off the bus and just run around the coach carpark as they smelt freedom on the breeze laced with wild roses and sorrel.
After a brief introduction to the site from Dorinda, the new Engagement Officer with Durham Wildlife Trust, we trooped out along the designated paths as Dorinda pointed out flora and fauna.

Hawthorn bushes and their much needed rosehip in autumn as medicine. Knapweed and distinguishing it from the common thistle. Nettles when no flowers you can pick the leaves and add to soup or make nettle crisps. But also a test of masculinity in Scotland to place uncooked nettle leaves within their trousers.
Natural heritage knowledge was shared and passed on during this walk.
There is something to be had in the naming of things. Knowing the names of plants and animals  brings a certain kind of joy and child-like glee to a person. Before these outings, we didn’t know the names of common plants. We hadn’t had the opportunities to be with them. To spend time outdoors and be taught their names and properties. Naming is a sort of claiming. In the Judeo-Christian tradition that is your inheritance. The ability to name brings the thing alive. Brings the connection.

These experiences are pure gold for the soul. Gold for our sense of self and place in this society where we appear as the minority but on the global scale are the majority.

As we walked the land, we each took away what we got out of the experience as individuals as well as a group. We’re not going to have the same experience as we enter the space at our own level and own pace. But I can say quite definitely that we all, women, mothers and children, enjoyed the sense of freedom and belonging we experienced through being in communion with the natural world this day. Just like the plantain’s easily identifiable heart-shaped leaves can be used to soothe blisters and sores, being with nature, being part of  nature is our daily salve for our souls and hearts for which we have much gratitude.