I had the opportunity yesterday to join a local nature group for a few hours, the intent being to explore an area of mountain grassland not far from my home. I was a little disconcerted to find myself the only amateur among a group of experienced and highly knowledgeable entomologists and ornithologists (all men!), but they were welcoming and I learned much from them.
It was fascinating to see them work, focusing on a small patch of grass or heather and dicovering within it a multitude of tiny insects, or moths, spiders, and beetles. One or two findings were rare, and there was much excitement at the discovery of the Mountain Bee, or the sight of a Yellowhammer in trees nearby. Their love of and respect for nature was clearly apparent, and they were absorbed totally in the work and discovery of the moment. In the three hours we were together not one word was spoken about anything other than the world of nature around us.
These people were perfect examples of our capacity to live in the present, and what it brings to us. There was absolute harmony between everybody, and a sense of common purpose, interest and fulfiment. The World Cup, economic problems and BP were a faraway story which had nothing to do with the experiential reality of an informal ramble in the Welsh hills.
It was a humbling and illuminating experience for me, and I would not have missed it for the world.