Connect to Nature Online Class – Skylines

22.04.2020

Welcome to another Connect to Nature Online Creative Writing Class. For those of you new to this blog I use creative writing to help people notice and engage with nature for wellbeing. Think of it like mindfulness with a purpose! For more about how each class works please visit my About Page and also the How to Get Involved page.

This week’s class has been written with a special thought for all those self-isolating for protective reasons to shield themselves from the virus, for those unable to get out for daily walks and those of you who perhaps don’t have an outdoor space to enjoy or sit in.

I find a lot of beauty in the sky and thought this would be a nice theme for today. I’ve spent the last few weeks in an upstairs room looking out onto a brick wall and the sky. I love the changing colours that I see each day and also watching a little nest of starlings going in and out of the guttering across the road. I think I love the sky because it reminds me of the sea! I grew up by the sea and I often think the sky is like the sea – with its changing moods, patterns and colours. So this class is all about looking up at the sky, cloud watching and finding solace. I hope that you enjoy!

Task 1: (5 mins) After announcing this class would be about cloud watching on Monday’s Poem, there has been nothing but beautiful cornflower blue skies!! (Typical! – So you can thank me for the lovely weather). I’ve been taking pictures of the changing colours of the sky through an old round window in my home (see below). So let’s start by writing ten words to describe the different changing colours in the skyline and what it reminds you of.

Task 2: Charting the Sky like the Ocean (5 mins) .

There is a lovely little book I own called the Waves on Porthmeor beach -in which two artists charted the moving patterns of waves and water over a series of months. Thinking about this as an inspiration write a log of the sky as if it was an ocean. Even if it is a clear bright blue – let your mind wander and write about what it reminds you of. How would you describe the blue that you see? Is it the colour of a cornflower, or is it a pale white blue like the shell of a blue egg? If there are clouds, what do they remind you of, are they drifting or sweeping? If the sky is grey how would you match the colour? Is it the colour of a pebble, or a feather, or perhaps cobwebs; what can you liken it to in nature? See where your mind takes you. If you enjoy this task it might be something you would like to continue with daily.

( As an extra challenge you might want to include these ocean themed words for fun: waves, ripples, tide, drift, pull, foam, spray )

Task 3: The arrival of Swifts and Swallows. (10 mins). It’s the time of year for Swifts and Swallows to start arriving. Look out for them in the skyline, swifts particularly have a very distinctive call. I live in terraced house with no green space directly near to me, at this time of year the swifts start arriving and are often circling our streets at dusk.

Write about a bird’s arrival to our country. What kind of weather do they pass through getting here? What do they see when they arrive over the shores of the UK? What contrasts are there? (If you are reading this from elsewhere in the world, perhaps think of another migratory bird, or how it feels when your birds migrate away).

St Nick’s book club have been exploring the diaries of Wordsworth and his sister this week who also recorded brilliant observations of the natural world. They have also been thinking about Haiku poetry to capture nature based images. This inspired a final task about Haiku:

Task 4: (5 mins) Haiku are tiny forms of poems written in three lines. (Follow the link if you wish to be exact – they usually follow the rule of 5 syllables for the first line, 7 syllables for the second line and 5 for the last line). Your final task is to cut out a little view finder from a scrap of paper, or use your hands to make one. Hold your view finder up to the sky. In three lines write what you see, be as descriptive as possible. Don’t tell me that there are clouds in the sky, or that it is simply blue….show me through a Haiku -or three lines! Here are a couple of examples to get you going:

Scattered drifting clouds
Cotton wool wisps across sky
Glimpses of bright blue
The glare of bright sun
Piercing the brightest blue sky
Above shadowed streets


*Traditional Haiku are themed on nature and end with the third line as a contrast to the first two. So I used the shadowy image of the houses to contrast the bright sun. There are lots of Haiku poets on twitter. Search #haiku in your twitter search bar if you use it.

If you enjoyed this class you might also be interested in the artist James Turrell and his light installations. You can see Jame’s Turrell’s work at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park. If you want to see something on a grander scale I highly recommend watching this film on the Roden Crater and Jame’s Turrell’s work.

I also highly recommend St Nick’s Phil Taylor – our fabulous group leader from Discover Nature. Phil has put a series of nature based films on YouTube which you can find via the St Nick’s eco therapy page here. They are absolutely brilliant and inspiring and a good dose of nature if you are confined indoors at the moment.

Happy sky viewing everyone! Lots of blue sky dreams for the future I hope!

Watch out for Friday’s post with reader’s pictures and words from other green spaces and nature based interactions.

With best wishes,

Emma

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

3 thoughts on “Connect to Nature Online Class – Skylines

  1. I like idea of viewing the sky as you would the sea. I grew up on the coast & miss it especially now. I think about the colours, the movement, the smell and the feel of the water & sand. I will look for waves in clouds for now. However I don’t think a paddle will do after the shielding, I might need a swim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Meg! I agree with you about a swim!! I’m so glad you get what I’m talking about. We should do a post lock down coastal trip ….I’m going to get on to Kathy about that now! Best wishes Emma

      Like

  2. Message from Wendy: I didn’t manage to find the Waves on Porthmeor Beach book that you mentioned in the Skylines creative writing class, but in searching for it online, I stumbled across some amazing footage of waves being surfed on Porthmeor Beach and also Porthleven. It made me feel so alive watching these short films. I’m not a surfer but Eloise has offered to give me surf lessons. I sea swim and walk the Cornish coast path all year round. Both are a little on hold at the moment but this blog has enabled me to look forward to when I can resume both.

    My reply – Hi Wendy, that’s fantastic! I have the book (stolen from Eloise many years ago!) I will bring it down to Cornwall for you when we are all free again!! I think it is available second hand on Amazon . So glad the class was helpful. Best wishes Emma

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