Spending time in nature during different seasons allows us to experience a multitude of personalities. The woods at Natural Pathways that barely whispered life in the Winter have exploded into a frenzy of animal and plant activity.
The coppiced sweet chestnuts have yet to cover the forest floor with their canopy and the wildflowers are out in abundance. The April Adult Bushcraft Course saw the emergence of bluebell leaves and the stark whiteness of wood anemones. Delicious ramson buds waiting to burst into tiny star-like flowers filled the air with their garlicy aroma.
As Spring leapt forward beech leaves emerged from their buds to give a yummy addition to our salads. And when it came time for the Women’s Bushcraft Course in mid-May the woodland became carpeted invibrant bluebells.
Each course has a different feel, an energy brought about by the communities we create over each bushcraft weekend. The most recent women’s course was a relaxed affair that captured a relaxed nurturing spirit as we bonded around the fire, very different to a mixed gender course.
Many men who come on the Natural Pathways bushcraft courses seek to learn practical survival skills and an element of competition can quickly rear its head. Not that this is a bad thing, on the contrary. It can be a huge boost to the amount of laughter we share as we review the day’s activities around the fire.
By contrast, this May’s women’s bushcraft course, although concentrating on the same practical bushcraft skills, had a deeper, more instinctive feel. A community spirit became evident very quickly as the shared experience of womanhood created an easy bridge between strangers at the beginning of the course. The pressures of home, family, job, spouse melting away allowing women who haven’t had much time to just BE for many years.
It became a discovery of self as much as a learning of practical bushcraft and survival skills. A chance to reconnect with the part of ourselves that always IS but that often takes second place when surrounded by the responsibilities of our lives.
Rediscovering the simple joy of only self-responsibility can have a profound effect as the realisation of our innate individuality rises. During the plant meditation on the last day the woods reminded us of this. A large bee flew into our circle, round and round for a few minutes before buzzing off to forage for food – a cue to us all to remember ourselves in the midst of our whirlwind lives.