5 new names – the fall 2020 challenge

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Yesterday we made the decision to cancel yet another summer travel plan and though I am very sad to miss out on some quality time with friends I intend to use my time at home as an opportunity to sink deeper into the medicine of place. . . I recognize the fact that we have been very fortunate throughout this pandemic experience in that we have not been locked down in the ways that some of our friends and family members in other countries or provinces have been. I know that it has been extremely difficult for some. . . I know that not everybody has access to green spaces, let alone wild spaces, and this is some thing that I think about often…. . . But it is my hope that this year of being more rooted within our home communities may be a possible invitation to deepen our relationship with the land that surrounds and supports us. . . I am always amazed at the variety of plants that spring up along the road sides and in between the cracks of sidewalks in urban centers. No matter where you live you are surrounded by a community of other than human neighbours. Plants, animals, trees, waterways, birds and insects. . . Each year I aim to learn the names of at least 3-5 new beings that surround me, and each year my sense of community grows. I know it can feel hard to be stuck in place but how might it shift for you if you got to know the names of your neighbours? Try it and see. Tell me what you learn. . . New moon 🌚 blessings to you all. . . #summer2020 #stayinghome #payingattention #medicineofplace #livingritual

A post shared by Natalie Rousseau (she/her) (@natalierousseau108) on

“Each year I aim to learn the names of at least 3-5 new beings that surround me,” posted local wellness teacher, Natalie Rousseau, earlier this year. “And each year my sense of community grows. I know it can feel hard to be stuck in place but how might it shift for you if you got to know the names of your neighbours? Try it and see. Tell me what you learn.”

Curious about the bird life around my place, I mentioned my desire to get to know their names to Veronica Woodruff, who is my nature guru. Her advice echoed Natalie’s… (and reminded me of this interview with her on the Wellness Almanac 8 years ago…)

What makes a steward and how do you know if you are one?

Veronica Wooodruff: Have you ever heard a bird call and wondered, ‘What is that? I hear it all the time?’Or have you thought, someone should really pick up that litter’, and then gone back and picked it up yourself?

Basically, if you care, you are a steward.

Veronica recommended the 5 birds I could get started familiarizing myself with… and the very next day, a cheeky little chickadee literally bounced from branch to branch all around my head, before conducting a signature upside down from a branch move. It was as if to say: I’ve been waiting for you notice me.

Also, on my new friends list: the rock harlequin plant. And salsify. And wire worm.

What if, this fall, you tried to learn the names of 5 things in your neighbourhood – it could be a person, someone’s dog, or a plant or bird or a constellation…

If you feel inclined to share, we’d love to run your encounter here.

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