BLOG 25: A Predictable transition from Winter to Spring is very important for foragers...human and animal alike. For example, when Robins return to our region they need the ground to be thawed in order to pull worms. If our seasonal timing is off and the ground is still frozen their lives are in jeopardy. Thankfully, nature-lovers scramble to put out canned dog food to help them survive. Many still die. Did you know Robins return to the same tree every year and their offspring take over the nesting site after they die? Why are Robins important to us? Did you notice that when their flocks arrive back into our mixed forests they arrive weeks before the tree buds have opened. The vibration from their lovely song triggers deciduous tree buds to open their leaves. Yes. There is science backing this and also how birdsong make plants thrive better than any other situation.Trees and their newly unfurled leaf canopies process the sunlight and in turn send food and important survival information to the surrounding forest plants so they can thrive and produce a wealth of stuff necessary for human and animal consumption and survival. Most of us have learned in high school biology class about biodiversity and food chains but I just don’t think many people really understand the ramifications of a lack of biodiversity, broken food chains or that they can even get broken with the loss of a species. Okay, so what if we lose Robins and their awesome song? There are plenty more singing birds out there...right? Wrong. The Earth needs every bird species to play their specific role in our present biodiverse home. Every extinction is another nail in humankind’s coffin. The Earth will adapt and continue without us and other species but we humans will not survive. Trees make oxygen, remember? Humans need forests for their survival. Forests need birds. Every natural thing is connected and important. These facts have been preached over and over again but people still continue to feign ignorance and consciously pollute at an unprecedented rate. People also continue to be apathetic towards endangered or ‘at risk’ species. So how do we get people on board with issues of the environment? Many say it’s too late for adults to change and we need to focus on our children who will inherit the earth. I have mentioned before of the school in Chelsea, Quebec where kids spend every Wednesday in an outdoor class. No books, no pencils, no paper...they learn using their major senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. It seems so sensible. (Couldn’t stop that pun even if I tried to…). I was told it is amazing how easy it is for these kids to retain the information they learn outdoors. Osmosis at it finest, right? Everyone pays attention in the wild forest...our senses wouldn’t have it any other way. Our senses get to do what they were intended for and that is to connect us to our natural world and learn how to survive in it. Outdoor experience is important. Some good news is there is a growing trend to rewild our children and even adults in the hopes that they will fall in love with our planet and understand her better. Ultimately, rewilding will make us want to become stewards of our planet and protect her from unnecessary harm. Rewilding has also been shown to burst open our creativity channel. We can all benefit from a fountain of creativity to produce biodiversity-saving ‘green’ inventions. We see results of this in many teenagers to date like the ocean cleanup array invented by 19 year old Boyan Slat or the Catalyst turning ocean plastics into biofuel invented by 16 year old Azza Abdel, for example. I don’t know about you but it breaks my heart to know our kids are disappointed in us and their future. They have lost our trust and are racing to save themselves and this beautiful planet. It pains me to even write that last sentence. So now I’m hoping you are interested in becoming wild and creative again. I must admit I know a lot of Madawaska Highlander readers who are already wild. Right? Some are not though and may come from urban centres to visit our beautiful highlands. So, if you think you are wild already you can simply check the list and calculate your percentage of ‘wildness’. The others hopefully will take the list to heart and begin their rewilding experience. So how does one achieve rewilding anyway? There are actually many ways to return to the true human our ancestors would be proud of. We do not have go back into a cave to impress them. We just need to live in harmony with the Earth and her cycles to make them proud. Much of this information I write about today has been inspired by psychologist and university teacher Erica Wohldmann. She took a 6 month sabbatical travelling from one natural forested space to another across the USA with one goal. That goal was to not spend a penny on food and to therefore forage her way across the States like our ancestors did so long ago. It was a phenomenal experience for her and she has shared it on TED TALKS if you’d like to watch it. A huge realisation for her was that rewilding helped her learn to live in greater alignment with her ancient body or genetic disposition. She realised that technology changes way faster than biology. Our biological selves are slow to adapt to new technology and as a result there is a lot of mental stress and physical diseases due this incompatibility. While foraging in the forests Erica quickly understood her place in this the planet. She also achieved perpetual and spontaneous joy or as psychologists call it - flow. What a great gift to get just from hanging in the forests. Flow is rare these days. We are multi-taskers with a multitude of distractions and flow can only be achieved with focus. Flow is extremely important for inventors. Ultimately, acquiring ‘flow’ in natural spaces can grow ‘green’ inventors. Everybody wins. Okay so here a list of things that we can do to rewild us, especially for urban folk and those who spend most of their time indoors. Much of this list can be found from a blog posted on thegrowthco.life.
The Rewilding List:
Physically go into the wild. Go hiking and explore wild spaces near you. Go camping on Crown land for free and forgo the convenience of bbq’s, showers and washrooms. If you go to a federal or provincial park book a walk-in site and leave the crowd and your car behind. Enjoy the silence free of man-made noise pollution. Listen to the wild sounds and learn to recognize them. Learn not to fear wild places. If your fear is too great hire a hiking guide to help you enjoy your experience safely.
Plant a garden. The purpose here is to learn how to care for the plant kingdom and connect with them. There are many endangered plants in our region that need your help to protect them.
Read about wild places and animals that have intrigued you growing up. You know like the Amazon jungle where Tarzan lived. Or about the Galapagos’ tortoises and Komodo dragons.
Make a list of what grounds you and makes you feel alive and free! For me it’s hiking, cycling, lake swimming and walking in the yard barefoot.
Know the plants, animals, insects and fungi around you. Do you know the name of the weeds mixed in with your grass on the lawn? Why are they there? Are they Canadian or invasive? Who is eating your tomatoes? What birds flock together in your neighbourhood...they are the same social gang every year by the way. Say hello. Pay attention and I promise you’ll learn so much.
Try to go way back and remember who you were before you were told. I know this is seriously deep and hard for many. Start by thinking about how you played and what your favourite toy was at the time. I have always been a ‘plant freak and hiking person’ I have been eating plants and making concoctions with them since I was very little. I was fortunate to grow up with pure freedom. I left the house in the morning with my brother and we’d bike to the woods and be explorers all day. We were only required to return for lunch, supper and bath/bed time. I remember achieving flow many times in my childhood. Thank you Mom and Dad.
Bring Nature into your home. For example plants, gemstones and foraged food. Don’t forget to nibble on known safe plants as you hike and forage too. Eating plants that fresh still have a life force inside that is a gift to you.
Pay attention to the seasons and weather. Understand it. Learn your cloud types, learn all those different kinds of snow. Learn how the seasons change what you can forage, etc.
Move your body. It is an ancient practice. We need exercise to be healthy so go hiking or forest bathing. You do not need to pay for a gym membership. Outdoor activities are free and full of fresh air.
Change the way you dress. Are you comfortable in your clothes? Are you dressing for someone else’s benefit? Are you wearing toxic artificial materials? Don’t hide the real you. Be your wild self and feel the relief almost instantly.
Disconnect to reconnect. Put down that smartphone or gameboy. Unplug everything once a week, except the fridge of course, for the day. Let the sunshine wake you up on your days off. Read a book. You will feel fabulous. I regularly have everything unplugged in my home till I have to use it. I started it along time ago when I found out that if an electric thing is turned off but still plugged in the wall...you are still being partially charged by the electric company for its use. For me its my iphone and laptop that I have to disconnect from and it is hard. I need to post daily to my instagram account to keep my followers interested in me and my hiking guide services. Hmmn. I’d like to add three more things to this list:
Volunteer for an environmental organisation and help them achieve their goal. They thrive on volunteers.
Regularly check what species are on the endangered list and why. Check the Species at Risk list too. If anything listed is found in your local wild places become a steward for it.
Read and explain this article to a child and a teacher and warm my heart and yours.
So, are you wild? Can you get wilder? I regularly achieve 11 out of 14 things listed. That makes me 79% wild. I could do better...and I will. How about you? What is your score? Anyone with 60% or higher gets a passing grade from me and my respect. You are awesome.