As more than 1,000 Scots embark on 30 Days Wild this June, Jamie Proudfoot explains why just one month of wildness was not enough for him.
As a life-long amateur naturalist and friend to all things wild 30 Days Wild seemed like a terrific idea to engage mindfully with the outdoors, to practice looking, listening and touching, and to learn a little more about the amazing diversity that my little patch of Scotland had to offer, and to perhaps inspire others to do the same.
So for 30 fabulous days I tweeted my daily experiences, including birdwatching and bat detecting, rock pools and rock climbing, and wild flowers and waterfalls. As the initiative concluded I was struck by how simple it was to turn every single day into a wild one. I felt sparks of child-like curiosity and wonderment that were truly energising, and I didn't want to let go of this motivation.
A year of wild days
I committed to extending 30 Days Wild into 365 Days Wild, and it has been an incredible and life-affirming adventure through the seasons. It sounds simplistic, but there truly is so much to see if you take the time to really look – every patch of grass, tree or fallen branch is a cosmos in itself, and every wood pile, grassy verge or moss-covered boulder offers marvels.
I suspect that far too often many people – including my previous self – take much of what is wild for granted, and are unaware of the myriad interesting things beneath our feet, or flying overhead. I committed to posting photographs and videos on Twitter @proudfoot for each and every day of my 365 Days Wild, but they proved to be only a fraction of the experiences I was fortunate enough to enjoy.
Chance encounters become a thrill
My encounters have taken in both the macro and the micro, from huge red deer stags to the tiniest lichens, as well as many different habitats, and I am continually struck by how “wild” isn't just about how rare or remote things are.
I have experienced wild days on the sides of buildings, in the pages of books and on window sills. “Wild” to me, has become a feeling, when sight or sound tugs deeply at a yearning to understand, and I have learned so much. Chance encounters with an unknown wild flower, bug or bird song have become an absolute thrill, especially when I learn new things about the ubiquitous or commonplace, and the world on my doorstep has become a more vivid and wonderful place.
I have sat, open-mouthed and in astonishment, watching a bee's tongue flick back and forth. I have tracked fox prints through snow. I have spectated as stags bellow and fight in the rut, and I have laid down on warm grass, watching bugs inches from my nose. These are all things I will never forget, yet all have been accessible and awe-inspiring experiences, available to anyone with the desire to go looking.
Coming full circle
As I write this, I have ten days remaining. I will complete my “year in the wild” just in time to begin #30DaysWild once again. This year I hope to do more to inspire others to participate, especially young people and those like myself who aren't so young, and who have perhaps forgotten what it is like to climb a tree, look under a rock, or go looking for frogs. Beyond June – who knows what hidden paths and wonderful wildlife we may have met?
Jamie Proudfoot is a Youth Support Worker from Helensburgh. He is excited by nature, outdoors, hillwalking, kayaking & yoga. You can follow his adventures on Twitter @proudfoot