Thanks to Green Minds Co-facilitator Em Charles for this weeks blog post exploring life in all it's beauty & intricacy....
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain”
Henry David Thoreau
A few weeks ago a small parcel landed on my doormat. I’d finally invested in a handheld magnifying lens. A couple of summers back I attended a weekend foraging course with the lovely Robin Harford of Eat Weeds www.eatweeds.co.uk down on the beautiful Dorset coastline. Over two days Robin opened up a whole new world to me, both in the wonderful abundance of wild food that was so surprisingly available right under my nose, but also in exploring the microcosm of hedgerow, field and woodland, by equipping us with small magnifying lenses.
Over those two days not only did I experience the strange new tastes of wild plants, from plantain buds to lime tree leaves, but as a veritable giant I became nose to grass with a tiny world of wonder beneath my feet. When we look through our human eyes, as fantastic an organ as they are, we are often only seeing a very superficial level of detail in our day to day navigations. Wandering through the countryside, whilst on a whole we may appreciate a beautiful scene, how often do we really make the time to stop and take a much closer look at the detailed infinite world that encompasses us?
With my new pocket magnifier in hand I set off, eager to explore my usual route, but now with slightly different eyes. What did a dew dropped feather look like, the seed pod of a large poppy, the bark of an oak tree, or the head of a dandelion? Sharing a few intimate minutes with these varying aspects of our landscape, suddenly completely changes your perspective. The fluffy dandelion head for example, often and unfairly labelled a weed, in minute detail becomes a thing of delicate, complex and intricate beauty. Tightly packed miniscule stems burst from a tiny balled center displaying something similar to hundreds of miniature feathers, perhaps like you’d see protruding from a beautiful native American headdress.
The poppy seed head, beyond its already lovely red petals displays a detailed spectrum of colours, an array of electric blues, deep mauves and magentas, a whorl of multiple anthers with the lined crown of the seed pod center stage, its design resembling sugar coated strips of candy you’d more likely find in an oldskool sweetshop. And then there’s the multiple tiny creatures and insects inhabiting everywhere from the woodland floor and flower meadow to the deep furrowed grooves of ageing tree trunks. A few still minutes and a little patience and before you know it, all sorts of activity comes to life beneath your lens, busying away in abundant miniature scale. Our tiny wild neighbours going about their daily duties clearing, eating, carrying, connecting, delightful mini communities doing what they need to do as part of their vital role in the mysterious and intricate cycles of life.
A small magnifier can be found online for as little as £10, mine is set at 40x25mm magnification and I wouldn’t suggest buying anything less than this, it’s a great investment that can easily go in your pocket or hang around your neck. So next time you’re out, seek out those flowers and plants you most admire, those gnarly bits of tree trunk or pretty fallen leaves or feathers, and spend some time exploring their intricate detail, or kneel down close to the ground in a space of your choosing and then wait and quietly watch, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed…small is indeed beautiful