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Connecting to Nature: Nature and Me

Nature and Me
by
Marghanita Hughes

I have never felt separate from nature. Climbing up into the welcoming arms of the paper-like bark of a Silver Birch in our back garden is probably my earliest recollection of the powerful “connection” I had with nature as a young child. The majestic tree gifted me freedom—the higher I climbed, the freer I became. Up high, was a place of beauty and wonder, where my imagination soared.

In autumn, her cascading waterfall of golden beauty showered me with a thousand leaves, gifting hours of play and creative exploration. In spring and summer, nestled on my favourite branch, I felt safe and nurtured in the arms of the graceful tree. When she swayed, I swayed with her - she cradled me with love. We became one.

That deep love and intimate connection with trees has never left me, in fact it has grown deeper and more powerful over the years.

I may not climb as many trees now but I do spend most days in the presence of the majestic giants, red barked Ponderosa Pines, which dominate the BC landscape. They emanate the sweetest smell in the summer, and carpet the landscape with their spikey pine needles in the fall, and in the winter months dazzle me with their sparkling white coats. Weeping willows dance at the lakeshore and Cottonwoods shed an abundance of colourful leaves, inviting infinite creative explorations...

When I play with nature – it's a natural, organic exploration, something I have done since I was a small child and that need to play with nature has never left me.  Play is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.

Growing up in the Scottish countryside, I explored, and gathered from, the natural world. I touched, held, and responded to things, in an intimate and personal way. Gaining a sense connection with these items, and the environment in which they were found, I gained confidence to explore further and create something new from what I found. This led me to write several children’s picture books. I always had the desire to share the joy of creating art, and the awe and wonder of nature, with children; it has become my life’s work.

I see ourselves, nature and art as inseparable, it is everywhere and we are part of it. 

Every tree has a story; every rock a secret; every bird a song, and every flower a smile - to share - if your soul is awake. These intimate encounters with nature cultivate gratitude and stimulate imagination, gifting infinite possibilities for the need to create. We are interconnected to everything and all life.

The Arts are alive and flourishing in the Natural World. Mother Earth's Art is a language I understand better than any other. Nature is art - we are gifted an open invitation to visit the best, most spectacular art gallery in the world - Mother Earth.

In witnessing the ever-changing masterpieces, it stirs and evokes the creative soul within.

I would like to share with you a few excerpts from my nature journals...

Theatre at the Lake – Drama   
The Okanagan Lake, July 2017
(Spirituality of Place)

Everywhere we live has a spirit. Last night the wildness of this sacred land spoke to me, calling me to the lake. The wild winds whipped up the waves and performed the most theatrical display.

I stood mesmerized by the ever-changing canvas before me; the colour, the sound, the smell, the power, the raw wild energy enveloping me - seeping into my whole being - I became one with the elements...my spirit dancing, utterly happy, wild and free.

The creative pulse flowed through me like liquid on the night of the storm - I produced several pastel drawings featuring the elements and was inspired to create a felt beaded heart, the colours representing the earthly elemental tones that flowed through me on that magical evening absorbed from the lake. 

Music and Poetry of the Forest
Inspiration to write my children’s book
Orange Moon and the Grandmother Tree, 2010

Pure, gentle, authentic love emanates from the majestic trees and the visiting deer in the forest...the whispering winds carrying secrets and ancient stories. 

The soothing rhythm of nature spoke to my soul. I close my eyes and thank the birds and the flowers for their beautiful colour and playfulness, for their enchanting music and poetry and for filling my heart with so much happiness. These sacred moments gift me blissful contentment and strengthen my spirituality and faith, helping me navigate through daily life with greater ease.

Colour – My Mothers Garden – Crail
Fife Scotland, March 2017

The Blending of Colours

This morning I was gifted the presence of a rather exquisite being. The pheasant’s colours were mesmerizing. The deep vibrancy of his head and neck colours complementing the blending of his body plumage colours, created a living, walking masterpiece.

The main colour of his body is a ‘blend “ of warm browns/ochres, but speckled by dark tips on the feather ends, and his neck is a “blend” of iridescent blues.

An intense red patch around his golden eye, the white collar on his shimmering neck, and off white beak, are all eye catching because of their “contrast” with the subdued ( blended ) browns of his body. Evoking abundant joy, this dashingly handsome creature invited me to create and celebrate. I rummaged through my mothers art box and found oil pastels. Oil pastels blend brilliantly. They are messy and that’s part of the fun. There is something quite raw and freeing about smudging and merging the colours together.

Flowers - A Wild Meadow
Lake Country BC, early May 2016

Look with your heart and you’ll find the wonder of earth magic in every natural creation. During my walk last Saturday I came upon these golden beauties (Brown-Eyed Susans). Swaying in the gentle summer breeze their waving smiles invited me to sit amongst them. I lost myself in the golden glow of colour. In awe and wonder of our perfumed sisters, my heart began to melt into a slow rhythm and I became one with the flowers – drifting gently and peacefully into communion with all – harmony filled the air.

These magical encounters always offer lessons too - Everything grows at its own pace in nature - If we look at this delightful group of Gaillardia aristata (Brown-Eyed Susan) we can instantly see that each flower is at a different stages of its life. I absolutely love the pompoms that are left after having shed their petals. Each one is unique, distinctive and beautiful. If we look closer we can see how beautiful each stage of the flowers life cycle truly is. These deeper observations help us to recognize and appreciate our own stages in life. These powerful lessons help guide me through life.

As I made my way back onto the trail path my heart was dancing joyously, I was vibrant and glowing. Gazing back for one last glowing thrill I was reminded of William Wordsworth’s delightful Daffodil poem…”and all at once I came upon, a host of golden daffodils.”

This beautiful encounter of the daffodils remained with William throughout his life and when feeling low or despondent he recollected the scene of the daffodils and this gave him great solace and filled his heart with pleasure. These moments of communion with the natural world are rich and authentic and will never be erased from our memories.

I will close with an entry of gratitude from my journal – 

Morning Moon 
Ellison – high in the mountains, April 2014

Waking up to a morning moon is magical!

As I gaze in awe at this mystical beauty, seeing the moon as if it were the first time, my heart fills up with love and appreciation and a warm glow floats around my awakening body. Spellbound, I sink deeper into the hypnotic wonder before me.  Moonbeams kiss my face and I melt into oneness with the moon. Her energy fills me with abundant joy and peace and a sprinkling of excitement.

All too soon, whimsical clouds of pink, soft mauve and violet hide her illuminating beauty and engulf her magical presence. I am left enriched; glowing with a peaceful heart and sparkling with deep appreciation and gratitude for such a sacred gift – a miracle, one of the many miracles we are all gifted each and every day.

Life is truly beautiful. When I begin each day spiritually connected to a life, I feel enriched and full of love, a love I wish to share with everyone. The joy that I feel, melts into liquid and is the ink in which I use to express myself creatively – my latest illustration ” Share the Love”.  What is loved will survive. We protect what we love!

Thankful for the gift of another sacred day – a miracle; Grateful for my purpose in life, my spirit dances in the grace of Mother Nature’s enchanting beauty. 

Somehow we have lost touch with the world around us and ourselves. Immersing ourselves in nature opens our hearts and makes us realize we are part of nature too. I believe, the more time we spend in nature, the deeper our relationship becomes, strengthening with each intimate moment.

Research indicates that children who learn a curiosity, connection, understanding and respect for nature, grow up to be more environmentally minded as adults.

The joy that comes with this new understanding and appreciation of our deep-rooted connection with nature can be expressed through our art thus providing an even deeper love. I truly believe that nature (art) can heal and bring peace and balance to a world that so desperately needs harmony more than ever before.

……………………………………….

Marghanita Hughes is a nature educator and artist, deeply committed to reuniting children with the natural world through art. Founder of "Educating the Heart with Nature Art" - an international nature art program which provides solutions for educators, parents and organizations wishing to reconnect children with nature.

She introduces students to the awe and wonder of nature through art. Nature art provides the students with a better understanding of their connection with nature and in ways that are fun and encourage them to explore and celebrate their unique sense of creativity. Her art projects focus on the interconnectedness we have with one another and all living things and can be integrated into any curriculum. Marghanita has also written and illustrated many children’s books and is a member of Artstarts.