Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Beard stroking and tree hugging...

I've just finished my profile of deep ecologist Arne Naess for Green Gurus. What struck me about his philosophy (when I wasn't trying to remember what 'deontology' meant) was the idea that not only are we a part of nature (which many people forget), but that nature is a part of us.

Naess spent a huge amount of his time in a mountain hut, contemplating nature, seeking spiritual enlightenment. This kind of behaviour is normally dismissed as beardy-weirdy tree-hugging, but who hasn't felt spiritually uplifted by an amazing landscape or an astonishing animal? I have felt giddy with excitement at the lip of the Grand Canyon, a whale breaching from the sea in South Africa and even a golden pheasant puffing up its ruff in a mating display in our local pet zoo. Millions tune in to nature programmes on TV (tonight's BBC programme about the undiscovered species in a Papua New Guinea volcanic crater looks like a cracker). So why are we so suspicious of those who immerse themselves in nature?

We spend over 80% of our time inside - some of it watching TV programmes about the outside. As a homeworker, I'm particularly vulnerable to not going out as many days I just don't have to go anywhere. So this summer I decided to get out more. Not having a mountain hut in a Norwegian massif to hand, I make do with my garden. If it ain't raining I try to get out - coffee breaks, mealtimes, anytime I can. Blocking out the traffic, people walking down the street and the sounds of work from the allotments, I watch the birds eating at the feeders, the bees on the sedum and the shapes of the trees billowing in the wind.

And guess what? It does makes me feel happy. Of course, it might just be the vitamin D, but I don't care!

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