A friend of mine who walks with difficulty on uneven ground has an enhanced perspective on nature. By watching closely where he steps, he tends to notice the small things on a hike – in addition to taking in the expansive views.
Unlike many of us who unwittingly trample on the minute.
It brings to mind what Aristotle said: “In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous.”
Clarens in South Africa’s Free State province takes pride in its nature conservancy on the outskirts of town. For a small fee, one buys a permit that is more of a map; it indicates cycle routes and hiking trails, illustrated with impressive photographs.
And it is here on the hiking trail that I make a point of spotting the tiniest of flowers and insects, delicately shaped fungi, brambles – some of which are ripe for the picking – and healthy lichen on the trees and sandstone. We follow the painted signs on rocks. There’s slippery mud on the path due to recent rains, a gushing stream, green moss, cascading water raining from above. We admire the deceptive fragility of spider webs and the birdsong from deep in the forest.
A delicate perfume of nature fills the nose. High above towers the sand-coloured mountain, wispy clouds brush the blue sky, like puffy umbrella seeds of a dandelion floating away in the gentle breeze.
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” — Gary Snyder, American poet.