A couple of blue tits alighted on the fat ball feeders, to be chased away by a great tit, only to move to the seed feeder, where they proceeded to sort the seeds, throwing some to one side as rejects, much to the delight of the dunnock and the robin, squabbling over the bits on the ground. The names come easily, as they are embedded knowledge, but the behaviours always intrigue. I need to look in order to see. The world is a visual place.
To hear the spring calls of birds and to be able to identify some adds to this pleasure. Night sounds, of the three owl species that are found locally, or the call of the fox, while annoying in the early hours, creates a contact between the inside and outside world. The world is full of sounds.
Being outside is one of my delights. I like the feeling of the wind on my face. Growing up in the South West, by the sea, I’d often walk the promenade during strong winds, just to blow away the teenage angst. It was cathartic and restorative. I enjoy the sounds and feelings of the environment and always have had an interest in the natural world. This interest led to reading and finding out from a range of other sources. I like museums and galleries as a result and it is no surprise that I became an active conservationist and a leader of a local wildlife group for children.
Sometimes, we just need a way in, to find a foothold into an experience that enables us to prolong our interest sufficiently long, so that the whole begins to make sense, to us. It is, after all, our way of being. I don’t know if anyone else sees the world as I do; I can only see it through my eyes and seek to explain what I see to you. I am intrigued by the Nordic noir series "The Bridge" at the moment, with a unique heroine, Saga, who, as a person with autism, has her own way of looking at the world.
I love to work with wood; part of me has always wished that, instead of being academic as a child, I had continued my interest and a developing teenage talent for woodworking and cabinet making. Triple science and two languages took away the practical subjects. Nowadays, I have to restrict myself to such things as garden edging, carpentry which has to be done, but to encounter a piece of well finished wooden furniture is a delight. The world is a tactile place.
Some buildings, landscapes and experiences just make one go “wow”, just by their majesty and splendour. There are hills in Dorset where driving to see family in Devon, to reach the brow of the hill opens up a vista that covers many miles.
My one sadness over the more recent past has been the loss of a sense of smell. As a gardener and lover of the outdoors, to lose an important sense must diminish the whole experience in ways that I cannot now tell. It may well impact on my sense of taste also, in some ways. Wearing glasses, I am aware that my sight is slightly less secure without them. So I am aware that I could be encountering some elements of sensory deprivation.
If a child does not learn to look, to listen, to feel they may well live in the world with a form of sensory deprivation, but of an unlearned kind. Their awareness of the world will be incomplete. They may be able to “experience” the world through their tablets or laptops, but only as voyeurs.
Sometimes, there is no substitute for real experience. Put on a coat and go and find out.