“Let the beauty we love be what we do” – Rumi
One of the beauties I love is Nature. Birds, landscapes, plants, flowers, wildlife, everything in nature. I love being in nature, too. Last October, on our monthly mini-adventure, my lovely friend Heather and I visited the Loch Leven RSPB Nature Reserve. Heather and I go on a mini-adventure every month to explore and discover areas of Scotland. We’ve been hill walking, bird watching, and snowdrop exploring, to name a few. Mini-adventures like these are an essential part of my work and my creative process.
At the time, I hadn’t yet been to Loch Leven RSPB reserve but I had wanted to go for ages as I’d driven past the sign for it on the motorway a few times. I also have an RSPB membership, which I hadn’t taken full advantage of, and I’d been a member for a while!
I jumped on the train at Edinburgh Waverley and got off at Inverkeithing, just north of the Firth of Forth. I love going on that route as it takes you over the Forth railway bridge and the views are spectacular. There was a bit of haar (sea mist) hanging over Cramond and Edinburgh but I was sat on the other side of the train looking west where I could see South Queensferry partially popping through the haar as well as the two Forth road bridges, one of which is a new one being built.
Heather picked me up from Inverkeithing and we drove towards Kinross but took a turning towards the south end of Loch Leven, only about 10-20 minutes from the train station. At the RSPB reserve’s visitor centre, we were greeted by a chirpy chappie who gave us a map and showed us where the bird hides were, and a couple of possible trails we could walk. We went straight to the first bird hide where we sat, waited and watched for ages. It was bliss.
Using my binos and camera with a ‘new’ lens – I say new, it’s second-hand, as is the camera. My dad had lent me his old DSLR camera and a lens to see how I’d get on with them though he said the lens wasn’t working optimally. This one was 300m, my biggest one is 200m. I said I’d give it a go anyway – I could zoom into some of the birds better and capture them in motion. I spotted Whooper swans, lapwings, ducks, finches, herons, and black-headed gulls.
The landscape was stunning. When we had arrived at the hide the loch was calm, there was hardly any wind. The only “disturbance” of the water were the birds floating around, taking off and landing. A big group of waders were huddled to the left from where I was sitting. It looked like they were still asleep, not much activity was going on. I noticed the seasonal changes in the landscape: grass, plants and shrubs were starting to turn yellow, red and brown.
Patience is required when it comes to observing wildlife, yet I can happily sit, wait and watch. I love the stillness and I am completely in my element. The mental chatter is no longer going on in my head. I’ve become an observer. I am in the moment. Nothing else is required.
I took some photos, and when the battery ran out (unfortunately, I’d left the ‘on’ switch on, or it was knocked somehow!) I got out my mini travel sketchbook and started sketching the scene in front of me, becoming even more present and aware. Mindfulness in action. Active meditation. Whatever you want to call it, I was in the zone, in a flow. I lost all sense of time. Time became irrelevant.
There were two more bird hides that we went into and spent time in. We also encountered a small herd of Highland coos (cows), two of which were using the wired fence as a scratching device. Highly entertaining!
After that we were really quite cold and luckily there was a little cafe in the visitors centre so we got a hot drink and some lunch. There was a great view from the cafe above the RSPB visitor centre, which overlooked the loch. You could use their telescopes to observe birds, too.
After that we hiked up the Woodland trail that took us to a viewpoint on top of Vane Hill, which gave us a panoramic view of the loch and surrounding areas. We spotted Bass Rock and North Berwick Law to the south. We couldn’t see Edinburgh as some hills obscured the view of the city.
All day I felt amazing: spacious, calm and centred. Inspired. Even when I stepped off the train at Edinburgh Waverley and encountered a horde of people, it didn’t bother me. This feeling of bliss lasted the rest of the evening and that night I slept the best I’d slept in about two weeks.
In the days after, it was on my mind how I could feel this sense of inner peace, bliss and calm within the hustle and bustle of the city. How could I embrace beauty and wellbeing like this in the city, without escaping it? That was something I would explore for myself in the next few months and which I’ll write about in a blog post in the near future.
Where do you feel a sense of inner peace and bliss? Where do you feel most in the flow, or in the zone? What beauty moves you (to create)? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear.