Exploring the undiscovered country of the nearby

We can become so familiar with a place, we hardly notice it anymore.

photo by gina loree marks

photo by gina loree marks

This place can be as close as your own backyard, or your own body.

Glennie Kindred's beautiful and practical guide, "Letting in the Wild Edges" makes the compelling case for exploring the boundaries of our known worlds ("the undiscovered country of the nearby*"), and reacquainting with the 'edges' - the wild, forgotten, overlooked, overgrown and neglected places where nature will take the advantage to re-assert herself.

It is in this reacquaintance that we remember our own wild edges - the aspects of ourselves that we push aside in favor of the known, the logical, the safe (which, yes, there is a place for, but it can be overdone...).

By allowing ourselves to wander, observe and just be gives us space for the naturalness and intuitive parts of ourselves to again have a place in the conversation of our lives.

Of course, communing in this way with nature requires movement.

And, as you know, I'm all about movement.

(Note: This isn't just about getting out to the 'wilderness' - it's about exploring the edges of your property, or noticing and appreciating weeds pushing up through sidewalks, or in abandoned lots ...  bringing your awareness to how tenacious the life force of nature is, how easily it can integrate and even overcome all our creations if we allowed it - and more importantly, that this living tenacity is within us, as well.)

"Letting in the Wild Edges" begins with a four-part introduction about the practical reasons and applications for one's relationship with the world outside the walls; from 'wild' gardening', to kitchen medicine to seasonal celebrations.

The second section is divided into an eight-part guide:  how to approach each season and the in-betweens in all their wildness and glory, with activities to participate in each one, whole-bodied and mindful.

I am excited and eager to share this book with you for several reasons:

One:  I love the outdoors, but admittedly, am not very adventurous.

I haven't camped for many years, and it would take me some conditioning to prepare for a hike of any significant length. Yet, I know how much better and sane I feel even when I walk in the woods for a bit, or work in my yard for an hour.

Meaning - For me, it doesn't take much moving in nature to rebalance my mood and perspective, so I can start where I am. And, so can you.

Two: I know that movement in natural settings is like whole, healthy food for the body and its trillions of cells.

Uneven surfaces, dappled light and shadows, sunshine, wind, chill, even rain on the skin, scents, air quality - all these features 'move' the body in so many and much-needed ways that a gym simply cannot provide.

But, not every body is capable or comfortable. So, I'm offering a weekly class beginning January: 2018, called "Movement for Life" - a gentle training of sorts to help you navigate the environment, both indoors and out, in the most nutritious way possible. Will also include group walks. :)

Three: I have long been questioning how I can more effectively align my practice and my blog posts with the seasonal cycles of Chinese Medicine in a meaningful and applicable way; so that you (and I) can care for our own and our families' health.

Kindred's book (while not Chinese Medicine-oriented) is giving me a template to work with, so look for how that manifests in the months to come. I hope you'll join me!

Lastly: the book begins with a suggestion for preparing an exploration 'rucksack' to keep on hand in preparation for short-term jaunts. And (as I was prepping my own) I thought, 'What a great gift idea for a fellow explorer - A "Wild Edges" Kit!'

Some ideas to put together your own "Wild Edges Exploration Kit":

You can find the book here.

The list of items includes:

  • Light water bottle
  • Nuts/snacks/dried fruit
  • Tissues
  • Baggies/paper bags (for collecting specimens/foraging)
  • Wet wipes
  • "Torch" (I assume this means flashlight? UK'ers, help me out!)
  • Magnifying glass/binoculars
  • Journal/sketch pad - pencils
  • And, I included 'band-aids' :)

My own 'rucksack' is quite modest and a hand-me-down, but fits the basics.

"Barefoot" winter boots by VIVOBAREFOOT**.

I hope this is inspires you - and, if so, you share your discoveries with us!


* Title is mentioned in "Letting in the Wild Edges", attributed to Roger Deakin, and referenced also in "The Wild Places", by Roger McFarlane:

“There is wildness everywhere,” Roger had written once, “if we only stop in our tracks and look around us.”  To him, the present-day and the close-at-hand were as astonishing as the long-gone and the far-afield.  He was an explorer of the undiscovered country of the nearby.

…I had started to refocus.  I was becoming increasingly interested in this understanding of wildness not as something which was hived off from human life, but which existed unexpectedly around and within it: in cities, backyards, roadsides, hedges, field boundaries or spinnies…. And it was there in the margins, interzones and rough cusps of the country: quarry rim, derelict factory and motorway verge." ~ from "The Wild Places", by Roger McFarlane, about his explorations of Great Britain and Ireland with Roger Deakin

** Links to the books and to VIVOBAREFOOT boots are affiliate links, meaning, if you choose to purchase through those links, I'll make a small commission.