I am attempting to expose myself and my new baby to the balm of nature, by going on walks in the autumnal woods.
That word, nature, is a healing and wholesome word we use to describe raw biology. It is the same word you could use to describe the intensity of pain in labour, or the heavy grief of bereavement. They are all natural, and when I used to walk in Hampstead Heath after Jannah, my baby daughter died, I would look at the leaves on the trees and know that they have a caretaker, a life force that will cause them to fall, and for the tree to continue living, to blossom again in the spring, to grow deeper roots and for new green leaves to come again. I was entirely baffled by it.
I have realised that nature is not something to visit once in a while in a park, like an elderly relative that sits still. It is the awesome weather storms that nourish our thirsts, and at the same time, the emotional turmoil that governs a heartbeat.
If you listen to the music of Vaughan Williams, you can hear nature. It is, to me, the sound of England.
It is the musical equivalent of an ode written by Keats. You could almost hear the wind.
Becoming a mother is a rite of passage. Every woman goes through the intensity of emotional upheaval that comes with caring for a new baby, and the term ‘baby blues’ really does not do it justice. It is more like ‘shrinking selfhood’.
A young woman, thick with creamy youth, sees her skin expand. Simultaneously her experiences envelope her emotions as she becomes the natural protector of her young. Nature saturates her mind with the baby’s survival, and no other thought, not even for her own wellbeing, can be tolerated. This is how our species has survived.
That saturation is what we call love.