Wandering with Wonder

Wandering is one of the core routines of Nature Connection in the Art of Mentoring philosophy. It is about following what catches your senses or your heart and following that impulse to wander and explore. It evokes a sense of peacefulness as well as curiosity. The Art of Wandering may also open the possibility for a nature mystery to present itself.

On a bush walk with my husband, mid-autumn, between the drizzling rain, an acacia bush caught our interest. It was just starting to flower with buds like spacey alien antennas springing out between delicate pinnate leaves and harsh thorns. On a closer look we saw the result of insect activity, perhaps some old eggs that hatched, looking similar to clustered wooden pods that had burst open. It made us wonder what the pods of this acacia actually look like and how you know when the flowers are in full bloom?

Then on the same plant we spotted an interesting textured bug with four spikes on its back. Then a flower bud with some show of different colour. We were amazed how this one spiky and relatively ordinary bush was creating so much curiousity and desire for discovery within us. We wondered what we would find on other bushes of the same species. Would we find the same bug, would it be at the same stage of flowering, what other creatures find home or food here on these bushes? 

We started to track this bush and went from one to another seeing what we would find and wondering if we could link any observations to create a pattern?

There we found another beetle with feathery antennae, a praying mantis well camouflaged, the pods in fruit, many different homes of leaf curling spiders, an orbed web of a spider within a triangular silken frame, a native fly, and a messy looking cocoon. We spent some time watching ants crawl along one particular stem apparently eating something. Then we saw they were on the backs of two leaf hoppers. We wondered if this was a symbiotic relationship where the ants were harvesting a sweet excretion? What does the plant get from this relationship?

We wandered with a sense of awe in the diversity and abundance of small life on this one species. However, what amazed us the most was the heightened inquisitive and curious nature of our minds and how this as a shared experience connected us to each other within nature.

We would like to set you a challenge! Choose one species of plant. Look closely at its foliage, trunk and the spaces in between. What do you notice about the plant? Can you spot any creatures? What do you notice about the creatures? What makes you curious? Next find another plant of the same time. Look at that plant closely. What do you notice? Is there anything different about this individual plant. Is this particular plant a home or food source for any creatures? 

Keep wandering to find other individuals of the same plant and look at it closely. If possible go back to the plant that had something that you were really fascinated about. In your nature journal draw a sketch of what you saw. Remember to note the time of year, weather and any other environmental conditions.

At our programs we draw on the Art of Mentoring philosophy, spending time outside in the natural environment, allowing space for wandering in between ‘doing’. Our facilitators wander alongside children, asking questions aloud for themselves, encouraging children to observe closer. Jon Young, Founder of Art of Mentoring, captured this idea perfectly when he said “The final goal is to empower them to generate their own [deep] questions, to ponder the mysteries that will captivate, motivate and define them for the long years of their lives.”

KIN Village, our Perth based school holiday program, focuses on fostering deep nature connection within children. Bookings for winter are open now.