Immersion into nature at different speeds


When I think about getting out into the urban wild, I think of all the different speeds you can use to enjoy and/or immerse yourself in the great outdoors.  Each pace offers various experiences to connect with nature depending on what you might be seeking.  But all paces can offer benefits!  And of course when I started thinking of paces, it brought to mind music and the descriptions of different tempos.  So here is a snapshot of nature at various tempos:

FAST PACE (Vivace - Lively):

You might be biking or staring out the window of a car or bus.  You can get to enjoy the vista, the outlooks or perhaps even a tunnel of green.  It can allow us to feel immersed. This is nature at a MACRO level and we can enjoy taking in the full landscape as one image - green, beautiful and refreshing.

View across the river.

 The blur of green from a car window.

MID PACE (Allegro - Fast):

This might be where you are jogging or walking at a quick speed.  Nature is your backdrop here, not the main event but a great curtain of green that can also provide some distraction.  You might notice some movement and stop to find out what it is (a bird or a squirrel?) or notice the breeze or some unexpected sound.  But then you can also continue with your pace and move through the scenery.

The tunnel of green on a bike (Photo by Viliam Glazduri).

A SLOW "Walking" PACE can actually have three speeds:

SLOW - WITH A GROUP (Andantino): 

Here you might be walking at the same pace as just a pair but with a larger group, you are making more noise and not paying as much attention to your surroundings.  Perhaps you are with a group of birders or photographers so this might benefit you but if you are on a group hike, the hike may be more about spending time with other people with nature as a backdrop again rather than the main entertainment.

 The view of foliage.

Nature outing with others.

SLOW - AS A PAIR (Andante - "Walking" Tempo): 

This "speed" might work well for you but to ensure that this works there may need to be an agreement on the purpose of your outing.  Even when I'm with someone else and we're enjoying a slow walking pace, there's still the interest in chatting or sharing what you just saw or keeping pace with the other person.  I'll never forget the time we went out for a walk near Green's Creek and spooked an owl out of its perch because we were talking loudly.  If we had been quieter, we may have been able to observe the bird for longer.  You need a lot of attention to be completely present.

 Spring buds as sidewalk confetti.

Pause, notice, explore with a friend.

SLOW - ON YOUR OWN (Adagio - Moderately Slow): 

Walking on your own, if connecting to nature is your intention, can provide you with a very rich experience.  You will be able to notice so much - the sound of crickets, every bird's movement, the fresh scents of the earth.  You can pause whenever you want, get up close for MICRO detail and really take it all in.  For a fully immersive outing, make sure you don't have your earphones blocking sound and get off your phone.  This is your chance to soak in all that nature has to offer.

 Details of a tree trunk.

Outside even during the winter.

SLOWER PACE (Largo, Lento - Slow):

This can be when you pause for long periods and really study details.  You may be noticing the light and shadow as a photographer and looking for the best angle.  You may be sketching and getting layers of detail that you wouldn't notice just walking by or pausing for a minute or two.  Perhaps your only movement is a paint brush as you add in colour and try to duplicate the texture of the clouds. Or some specific small detail may have caught your eye and now you are watching a snail as it crosses the forest floor.  Whatever you are doing, at this pace, you benefit not only from nature but also the calm setting and unrushed experience.

 A study of colour and texture.

 Beautifully lit wildflowers (Photo by Viliam Glazduri).

Finding a friend while slow gardening.

NO PACE (Cesura):

Once you cease movement you actually become the backdrop yourself.  Think of this pace or tempo as one long note or the hum of the universe (Did you know that Om is the "same vibrational frequency found throughout everything in nature"?  MBG 2013).  This is obviously slower than even the slowest Grave tempo.  This could be time in nature cloud watching or day dreaming or *being at a sit spot.  At "no pace" you may notice a lot more than you did even at a slow inspecting, inquisitive pace or you may notice nature more as a movie running right before your eyes!

One kind of sit spot (Photo by Viliam Glazduri).

(*I've heard it explained that if you can spend at least 20 minutes at a sit spot, you will start "blending" into nature - after the energetic disruptions you've sent out to the wildlife around you have quieted down.  Think about it this way - birds, mammals, herptiles notice you as you come into their territory.  They send out alarms, which then notify other creatures.  It's like a ripple effect.  After you stop moving, it supposedly takes 20 minutes for the creatures to get back to the tasks that they were doing before you arrived.  After the 20 minutes if you stay relatively still, you may even be able to have very close encounters with relaxed fauna.)

After writing this, I'm also wondering about nature at different speeds on water - the comparison of the different experiences between speed boat, kayaking, canoeing or even a lazy river float.  Water experiences can also be enjoyed at different speeds!

So think about it - what's your favourite pace/tempo to enjoy nature?

Can you enjoy nature at different speeds?




Wild. Here. (Katherine Forster - Copyright September 2016)


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