Title: The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us ~ A Diary (2019)
By: Author/illustrator Emma Mitchell
Summary: An illustrated nature diary from England that inspires you to look more closely at the natural world around you. Beautiful to look at and read, with useful information to help you find, identify and document the changing flora and fauna throughout the year. Even better if you can share it with someone you love.
Nature has been a balm to us during the pandemic. Getting outside, into the woods or near water, has saved us on many a dark day. We’ve spent hours looking at the forest floor for mushrooms and bark, and scouring the beach for rocks and shells. Everywhere we look we find treasures; we take them home and study them, put them out for display — our minds sparking with inspiration and our energy charged to help us get through another week of virtual school and pandemic craziness.
Emma Mitchell tells us why being in nature makes us feel so good in her illustrated diary, “The Wild Remedy.” She includes the latest research that shows the positive impact it has on our body and mind:
“…simply seeing natural landscapes can speed up recovery from stress or mental fatigue, and hasten recovery from illness.”
Organized as a monthly diary, Emma notes what she sees (and what to look for) in nature during each season. She also describes her personal experience with depression, and how nature heals her.
“For me, it is the combination of experiencing the large-scale elements of a landscape, then casting my eyes down to examine the intricate miniscule world that exists on a tree stump or along a grass verge, that makes the biggest difference to my state of mind. When I am walking, my mind enters a state of very careful noticing. I seek out collections of plants, empty snail shells, berries and seed heads. As I do so I feel as though I’m swimming in the small details I see, so deeply do I become immersed in my surroundings. I feel that this is an ancient foraging instinct; it distracts and seems to muffle worries and root my mind in the present as I walk. I use it as a sort of wild yoga, and my searching results in small seasonal collections of common plants, flowers and nature finds that I photograph and hoard.” ~Emma Mitchell.
My daughter and I both love how Emma explains so precisely, and with great detail, exactly how we feel about being in nature. Her writing is very simple, profound and beautifully descriptive. The illustrations and photographs are equally beautiful; just looking at the book and reading her words makes me feel a little more hopeful.
Emma lives in England so we note differences in the flora and fauna she sees because our climate is much colder and snowier in Canada. We may not even see the ground until April, but she sees signs of spring in January!
As I write, we are heading into another winter. The days are shorter and darker now, and we’ve had our first snow. Though I love winter, I’m know we’ll miss our woodland and river walks. I already miss the sun.
This winter, I’m going to use Emma’s book as a cue to see what is out there besides the snow and the ice. Perhaps I’ve never really looked close enough to see what is around me in the winter. Some days the cold is too much to bear, but getting outside — or even being more curious about what’s happening outside my window — is the only way we’ll get through what feels like the darkest days of the pandemic.
“Going for a walk among the trees or in a field is something you can do if life is generally all right, to help you get through the usual doldrums and jaggedly stressful days that do and will arrive. When life is incessantly exhausting, has thrown you a terrible gluey lump of pain and you fell dreadfully, dingily sad, a leafy place and the sight of a bird in it can divert and begin to heal the mind…my hope is that if low mood has you pinned to your sofa or bed and you feel as though you are wadig through the treacle of sadness, reading about what I have seen, seeing the photographs and illustrations in this book, and perhaps venturing out to seek a winkole or a weasel of your won, may bring some relief. Walk; walk or wheel yourself outside if you can; seek out green, where furred or feathered things might be, even in your back garden. It really will help.” ~ Emma Mitchell.
Emma Mitchell is a self-described, “designer-maker, naturalist, illustrator, mum and now author.”
Follow Emma on Instagram @silverpebble