Wild on my doorstep

For artist and designer, Stephen Pardue, lockdown means appreciating the smallest of things on his local patch

Lockdown has resulted in my looking closer at my own patch. Listening more to everything and appreciating the smallest of things.

Wildness is everywhere. I watched a snail crawl up a wall, its antlers feeling its way from the sun-baked brickwork into a cooler, shady angle on the wall. Its life, its world was and is one of illness. It has no notion of man, the damage we are doing, the re-wilding we are attempting.

Wylam Nature Journal © Stephen Pardue

Henry David Thoreau describes finding beauty in the smallest of creatures ….. the clouds ….. the very grass he stands on. And so it is that wildness exists as a moment in time, an understanding of your own place in the world. And to feel attached to a place by your intimate knowledge of the nature of that place is to know wildness.

For the last 8 weeks, the air has become quieter. The birds louder. The sky stiller.

I am seeing and hearing things with new eyes and ears.

The tragedy of this pandemic is fracturing the world we have made and destroying families – my own mother succumbed to this virus and passed away without me holding her hand.

But back in the woods and the fields, there is succession – bluebells thriving, sweet woodruff carpeting the floor. There is a comfort to be drawn from seeing nature occupy their own space and it is up to us to feel privileged to be witness to this.

Wylam Nature Journal © Stephen Pardue

Even from my own house, the swifts can be heard screaming from the high skies, blue tits and great tits nesting in my allotment. Newts and dragonfly nymphs occupying the depths of my pond. A beautiful vixen screaming outside my window one night – a deer feeding whilst my dog and I sit crouched in the grass only yards away.

These are not exotic creatures nor rare. But for these brief moments, I am lost in a world not of my making, a world occupied by wild creatures. This is such a humbling experience and the emotions that this promotes in me is one of calm, peace and hope.

Thoreau describes “seeing beauty in the form or colouring of clouds which addresses itself to my imagination”. Thoreau does not need a scientific explanation to enhance his understanding …. He just … we all just need the space, the place, and the opportunity to stop, think, and feel.

By Stephen Pardue, Wylam

About the author

Stephen Pardue is an artist and designer specialising in the area of Landscape Interpretation. This is a discipline that allows him to combine his art with his love of nature and landscape.
Every day, he walks with his dog Jess and most of the journals represent his daily encounters with nature on these walks. The journals include sketches, poetry, and writing and often snippets of songs and lyrics. These are often brought to him on the wind or the breath of nature.
Stephen lives in Wylam in Northumberland and when not working, drawing, or walking, he plays trumpet in a band.