Autumn Blows In!

Autumn blew in yesterday.

Just for a moment … Then it was gone.

I was sitting on an earthwork, with some people from a Nature Therapy programme that I’ve been involved with this summer. Nestled on grass, amongst the dust and tea cups, we were quietly creating soundscapes on canvas.


They’re the loveliest thing to do!

To create one you simply absorb the acoustic patchwork of sound around you, then draw it. Its the sort of thing that ANYONE can do, even if you don’t feel confident at drawing. I mean, when drawing sounds there IS NO right way.


I was completely absorbed. Was busy plucking the rain-stick trickle of leaves on a hawthorn to my left; the breeze strumming an oak; summer dancing and warm, soft swirls emerging. Further east, down the valley, triangle bird song rang out and chimed with little flicks of orange and apricot. I caught them with a butterfly net. I engraved them with coloured wax.


And that’s when it happened.

Autumn blew in.

From the west, a deep, throaty gust of wind elbowed through the soundscape. It rampaged across the treetops and shook the maracas grasses. All birdsong died. The sky shivered grey. For a moment this new wind dominated whilst other sounds brooded and hung.

Then, with a whip of its tail, Autumn sloped away.

Just like that.

And Summer returned.

But you know, even if I hadn’t been doing a soundscape, I think I’d still have felt it … the subtle change of a season overlap.

If you were there, I bet you’d have felt it too.

Our connection with the seasons is such a crazy quirk of us humans, don’t you think?

In our suits and cars and café culture and hours spent in hairdressers flicking through a dog eared OK magazine, we will staunchly deny our animal natures. We committedly (word?)  wax our legs, pluck our nostril hair, shave our (men’s)beards as all Well Groomed Primates in concrete jungles must.

Yet underneath the perfumed collar of the corporate alpha female, or the arm-pit exposing stretch of the yawning silver-back boss at his leadership meeting, our biology is frightening close to that of animals. Animals, that yes, once lived closely to nature. We may not be compelled to collect hazelnuts and hibernate as autumn and winter set in, but most of us will feel the urge to get home, be cosy, snuggle on the sofa, make tea (possibly a cake)and light the fire if we have one.

I believe our relationship with the changing seasons is a whisper of this need to be connected to the natural world

What do you think?

In his book, Last Child In The Woods, author Richard Louv talks about “nature deficit disorder” and how as natural humans we NEED to connect with nature. He claims that our chronic disconnection with our true environment (caused by massive urbanisation, electronic media and media coverage of violent crimes that make people panicky about being outdoors) affects not only our health, but our ability to feel “ultimately alive.” He says that children who do not spend enough time outdoors are often prone to anxiety, depression and ADHD (symptoms of which are shown to be reduced by being in nature).

Louv isn’t alone in his thinking.

A University of Kansas study showed that people in hospital who can see a natural landscape get batter faster and youth who backpacked for three days showed higher creativity and cognitive abilities. One Norwegian study showed that subjects with moderate to severe depression who participated in a horticultural programme experienced reduced symptoms after 12 weeks. In 2011 a study published by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that people who walked on an outdoor track moved faster, perceived less exertion and experience a more positive internal state than those who walked on an indoor treadmill. According to Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School, women who spent 2-4 hours in the woods on two consecutive days experienced a nearly 50% increase in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.

In a world where most kids, let alone adults, are exposed to more electronic media in a day than our grandparents were in a decade, we need to reconnect with nature to nourish our wellbeing.

Nature is our natural environment. And it shows.

“What is this you’ve been doing, Mum?” asked my son, Roo, as he climbed into the car once the Nature Therapy session was complete and I’d gone to collect him.

I glanced over my shoulder to see him holding my canvas. “It’s a soundscape,” I explained. “It’s a picture of all the sounds I heard today.”

Roo (who by fluke had ALL of his high-tech stuff confiscated off him his morning) stared at the canvas for some time. “Can I do one?” he asked eventually. “We could go to the woods? But we need to do it very soon.”

I looked at him in the rear view mirror. “Of course we can do one. But what’s the rush?”

Roo shrugged, put the canvas down and stared out at the blue sky.

“No rush I suppose,” he replied. There was a pause, then he added, “I just think I felt autumn coming today.”

That was yesterday and today, by the looks of the weather, our autumn instincts were right. There are going to be some crazy howling noises out there but me and my little tribe of soundscapers are going to snatch them if its the last thing we do!

Love Bethan x


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