From Spring to Winter – snow to green

The last few weeks have presented the best of Finnish spring to us.. there were days of snow, rain, sun and wind, bright and ever brighter evenings and, eventually, the greenery started flashing its soft vigor, starting in the south. The ice on the lakes finally loses its grip with the howling winds, and so, the winter is about to pass giving way to a new summer.

I’ll be heading from one winter to another, having finally solved some visa issues and thus being able to return to South Africa in just a few days time. Lovely, exciting.. new beginnings again. I will be working at least part-time with an organization called Lunchbox Theatre that do educational theatre about environmental and social issues, and organize skills development and workshops for youth. Thus I look forward to continue and take further, with them and others, the ventures in the fields of environmental consciousness, arts, music and empowerment activities.. Plenty of work in the coming times I suspect and it is good so. Settling in a place again, for a while at least.

The past weeks in Finland saw me across the country, visiting relatives and friends.. and finding a little job that took me to Loviisa and this southern part of Finland that I never knew before, and had no idea of how beautiful and fascinating it could be there. In Helsinki there were also meetings with people who participated in the recent nature connection course in Italy – and thus I could continue feeling inspired and bouncing ideas with them; wonderful resource for the upcoming times.. On the way back from Helsinki there was a funny surprise when I got offered a lift by a Dutch carpenter who had done the exact same master’s degree in Wageningen as we did – about ten years earlier. What is the likelihood of this happening! 🙂

Now still enjoying the days with the family. Wondering about the endless beauty around.. pondering on the elections that just took place in Finland. Will there be big changes in the future? What will the government be like.. What will be the values most cherished in the future? Will nature and economy continue to be seen as two separate things.. some standing for one, almost, and some for the other. And, in time of crisis, as they say, “we must pull ourselves up”.. but how to do that, if we haven’t made all possible to take care there is that base – nature, us in it – from which we all come from and derive all that we need, all that sustain us.. And then to think of it.. where are we so very much going that we must “pull ourselves up”, anyway? When up again, what happens then?

Such thoughts after the elections..

Listening to the birds outside, the gulls, the blackbirds and lapwings, their whole energetic choir, no need for them to bother about these concerns of ours. The trees that stand tall and robust, yet their branches dancing with the wind that blows messages of summer, spiced with hail and snow, ahead of them.. no questions there, though perhaps plenty of answers for a hearing ear and a keen heart.

I’ve been doing a little photo exercise, to ponder on one’s reasons for experiencing our environments in a certain way – a means for considering a bit, why we might act the ways we act with regards to nature and each other. What better place to start this exercise than in the physical places, forests and lakes, that I come from.. taking it to South Africa where this “place attachment” surely has got some different meanings and ways of shining through in thoughts and actions. Inspired to this exercise by a dear friend I’ll meet upon arrival again, this is something we might all wonder sometimes: what are the motivations and reasons, be they social, ecological or other kind, for us to care for certain elements in our surroundings.. and what kinds of actions do these motivations, each day, lead to. What all is there to value in my surroundings?

To be grateful for, and to care for.

Not that we’d have to try and define these things to their very end, nor might it be possible – yet inevitably learning, doing and being take place..

A poem:

Hundreds of flowers in the spring, the moon in the autumn,

A cool breeze in summer; and snow in winter;

If there is no vain cloud in your mind

For you it is a good season.

(Zen Comments on the Mumonkan 140)

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