What Do You Mean...the Beach is a Forest?
Ever since I can remember from a young child, I have loved nature and especially water in all forms, and most of all being close to the sea.
The highlight of my Summer holidays was always getting that very first glimpse of blue water, glittering in the sunshine and oh so deliciously tantalizing and inviting.
And the smell of the salt air, breathing it into my lungs touching a place deep inside that was full of remembering. Here I discovered my freedom and my ‘Happy Place’ - fossicking for endless treasures the tide brought in.
What I discovered on this journey was my passion for Islands, for the spirited communities of creative folk who choose this independent lifestyle, and the diverse seashore and ocean life surrounding on all sides.
So it was that in 1987 I made my family home on Aotea, Great Barrier Island – a remote off-shore and off-grid existence on a wild and forested volcanic rock of spectacular beauty on the outer edges of NE New Zealand.
My beach spreads out in a horseshoe shape fan facing North and the full day’s sun. The sun rises over the cliffs and rocks of the Sou’Eastern tip of the bay, travels anti-clockwise and sets over the hills towards the West. The South Pacific Ocean sits right on my doorstep, and I share it with an abundance of sea life, birds, forests and an eclectic Island community of around 950 people eking out simple livings on the land and sea, boosted by a relatively low key seasonal tourist industry. My nearest mainland neighbour to the West is Auckland City, 90 kilometers and a 4 ½ hour ferry ride away, and to the East lies Chile some 9,000 kilometers over the horizon. This special nature reserve of dark night skies with her road-map of Milky Way stars above my roof, bush clad mountains and hills, native forests, white sandy surf beaches and pristine clear waters has been my home and my front and backyard for the last 30 years. It is here that my absolute love affair with the Pacific Ocean seashore was born and has played out every day since.
This profound Nature immersion experience took me back to such a familiar place inside myself, and re-awakened the Wild Child inside me, reminding me so much of days growing up in the hills and valleys of The West Country.
It touched in me a recognition of the importance of this deeply nurturing re-connection which is so essential to my daily well-being and to my relationships with all of life.
When I arrived back on my paradise Island home, it was a ‘no-brainer’ to start exploring the exciting possibilities of Forest Therapy, guiding in a totally different ecosystem. The one I was most familiar with and the one I was most passionate about. I instinctively knew it was possible to walk the ‘Way of the Guide’ embracing all core elements and principles of the practice right here on my doorstep and incorporate these fully into my life. This place is where my nature connection practice meets my love affair with ocean shores, and HERE is my Inspiration for offering Nature and Forest Therapy Guided walks ….. quite literally the Beach is MY ‘Forest’!
I would now like to offer you a taste of my ‘Beach Forest’ as I witness it, so come walk with me across the dunes on my Journey to Welcome in the New Day…..
I sit on my log overlooking the ocean and the beach facing towards the early sun, greeting and feeling greeted by the many and varied lives that inhabit this edge zone.
Here are the waving Hare-Tail grasses that dance so joyfully in the breeze, my very special favourites. How can they know when to emerge from their plump stems all on the same morning?
Many Beings and sensations command my attention: native and introduced bees, bugs, and butterflies forage in the rich dune flora, and the pervading sound and shifting colours of the glistening Ocean.
From my log perch I watch from a distance the resident winged ones defending territory and feeding – Pied Oyster Catchers, NZ Dotterels, Shags and Gannets, Swallows catching breakfast on the wing, and the ever hopeful Seagulls.
I sometimes see a local dog plus owner on regular morning exploration of smells and ‘news’ gathering, and other occasional humans who also enjoy this freedom. I recognise almost everyone from some distance by their walk and the odd visitor sparks my curiosity. I notice tracks - some old, some new and I wonder who else has been visiting here and when, and what they have been discovering here at this edge place? On a lucky day, fins appear in the bay, and my heart leaps as our resident dolphins cruise along the shore playing in the surf, a rare treat on this exposed Eastern coastline !
I honour their support and offer Gratitude and Blessings in reciprocation and I send these prayers out on the ocean waters to transform and journey wherever they need to go ….. “Let it be so”.
I watch the tide for a few moments, observing the shape of the waves and the ebb and flow of this day, then wait at the edge for the water to kiss my toes. I always feel surprised by her warmth in the cool morning air. I bless and cleanse myself inside and out, refreshing my internal waters and splash water over my head and shoulders. This always sends tingles down my spine and I sense myself awake and vital.
On warm days I slip into the water, diving head first into the waves relishing the fresh embrace of the ocean on my skin, then indulge in the sheer pleasure of feeling every single cell tingle and shimmer of my body waking up as I dry off in the soft sun. I wander further along the beach fossicking, or head back up the dunes and home for coffee and breakfast with a smile on my face and peace in my heart. This is a Good Day…..