Share Your Story of Nature’s Cure in Times of Need

We need your help to build a picture of what nature in the North East means to people in times of need

Nature is bound up with emotions. Landscapes often evoke feeling – a familiar beach bringing up happy memories of carefree days spent on holiday, for example. Sometimes, emotional resonances can be unexpected. It was only after I lost my grandma that I realised how much I associated her with the smell of geraniums. Now, being in her garden is the best way for me to feel back in touch with her.

We all have our emotional landscapes of nature. The Nature’s Cure in Time of Need project recognises that this emotional connection to nature is as important as its scientific study. As part of the project, we are collecting stories about what nature means to people in the North East in difficult times: this could be a time of personal difficulty, like a bereavement, or a period of collective crisis, like the Covid-19 pandemic.

To build this picture, we want to hear from you: what is your story of nature’s cure in time of need? What does nature in the North East mean to you? Your contribution will be collected and preserved in the North East Nature Archive, to create a record of what nature means to people in the North East in difficult times. You can find more details, and submit your contribution to the Nature’s Cure in Time of Need collection, here:

Noreen Masud, academic and author of A Flat Place, has shared with us her story of Nature’s Cure in Time of Need. Noreen’s love for the nature of the North East – both ‘big’ and ‘small’ – and the solace it provided during lockdown will undoubtedly resonate with many:

I lived in Newcastle for three precious years: I miss the nature of the North East so much. Not just its ‘big’ nature – the lush countryside right outside the city, the yellow sands of Tynemouth, the fat river scattered with kittiwakes – but the nature minutes from my front door. Newcastle’s vast Town Moor fills the city with green space, and during lockdown – when it was just me and my cat – I returned over and over again to Nun’s Moor. First I’d go through Nun’s Moor Park, where parakeets screamed and children picked dandelions with great concentration. I’d find small things there: a blown-away birthday card, a little heap of sticks. Then I’d come out on to Nun’s Moor: bare, open and beautiful. I’d crisscross the flat space, following the multiple desire paths smoothed out by joggers and dog walkers and cyclists. The cows arranged themselves in shapes, staring at me, whisking their tails. On the moor I could be alone and myself. It let me experiment with what my tired body could do: climbing over the fences, picking through mud. And when I got sleepy I could go home and to bed. The moor makes space for everyone, joining wealthy Jesmond to the untidy West End neighbourhood where I lived.

In A Flat Place, Noreen Masud examines how nature and landscape are bound up with memory, identity and power. You can find out more about A Flat Place, and Noreen’s work more broadly, here:

Kate Guariento
Project Archivist

Kate leads on the Nature’s Cure in Time of Need: New Voices for North East Nature project.

She works with local communities within the North East to engage with people whose stories are under-represented.