In a bumper new edition of our Natural Thinking playlist, we’re shaking off the weight of winter and basking in the joys of spring.
Birdsong fills the morning air. Landscapes come alive with colour. Light lingers on the horizon. As we emerge from long weeks locked indoors, our appreciation for the simple pleasures spring brings feels especially intensified this year.
From immersive films of the UK’s wild places to sweet folk sounds and layering up for a spring hike, join us as we dive into inspiring sights, music and musings that celebrate the season of renewal.
‘Soul Music: Feeling Good’ – BBC Radio 4
“Birds flying high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by, you know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life for me, yeah
And I'm feeling good”
With our collective re-emergence and hope for brighter days ahead, this song’s stirring lyrics feel particularly relevant right now. Settle down and listen in as the surprising and emotional stories behind this legendary tune unfold on this powerful podcast from BBC Radio 4.
Springwatch ‘Mindful Moments’
No music, no commentary – just the soothing sights and sounds of the natural world as it comes alive in springtime. It’s hard to pick a favourite from these enchanting two-minute films, but we loved losing ourselves in the watery reflections of the Lake District.
National Trust ‘BlossomWatch’ Campaign
To celebrate the blooming of spring blossom across the UK, the National Trust is launching its second BlossomWatch campaign. Nurturing a new tradition in homage to Hanami (the Japanese custom of honouring the transient sakura season) – the campaign encourages us to capture and share our blossom pictures on social media with the hashtag #BlossomWatch. “Moments in nature can help people recover from the stresses and strains of the pandemic,” explains Professor Richardson from Derby University.
To get us all in the mood, we found the beautifully shot film, Blossom (above), taking us up close to the sweet blooms and those who live amongst them.
‘The Natural Health Service: How Nature Can Mend Your Mind’ by Isabel Hardman
When Isabel Hardman fell into a deep depression, her world shrank and her mind “stopped working”. But by tapping into the therapeutic potential of nature, Hardman was able to mend her mental anguish. From cold-water swimming to forest bathing and spotting an unexpected orchid in a Glasgow car park, The Natural Health Service reveals the elation nature brings and unearths its scientifically-proven benefits. Plus, it introduced us to ‘friluftsliv’: the delightful Nordic word for the healing power of nature.
‘Ragged Wood’ by Fleet Foxes
Transporting us to the sunlit evergreen forests and rushing mountain streams surrounding Seattle, the soaring folky tones of Fleet Foxes’ Ragged Wood feel equal parts enlivening and hopeful – brimming with the joyful anticipation of good things to come.
“Come down from the mountain, you have been gone too long
The spring is upon us, follow my only song”
RSPB Nature Reserves: A Spring Dawn Chorus Soundscape
Allow nature’s wake-up call to stir your senses as you take a minute (or ten) to soak up the spring dawn chorus from the RSPB’s nature reserves. Best served with headphones on and eyes closed…
Discover Spring Hiking Gear for Women with Athena Mellor
Immerse yourself in adventurer (and land&water friend) Athena Mellor’s life in the wild via her vivid YouTube channel. With her first walking guidebook, The Peak District Ramble Guide, freshly-published, here Athena talks us through her top picks for spring hiking gear and how to layer up like a pro at this changeable time of year.
You can read our REFLECTIONS interview with Athena here.
‘Big Yellow Taxi’ by Joni Mitchell
A rousing environmental anthem about the dangers of taking nature for granted, industrial farming and urbanising wilderness. As relevant now as it was on release in April 1970.
“They took all the trees
Put ‘em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ‘em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Exposed: A Sculptural Installation by Laura Ellen Bacon
“The merging of my organic forms with these very linear constructions of architecture is something that really appeals to me.”
A finalist in this year’s Woman’s Hour Craft Prize, Laura Ellen Bacon whittles intricate sculptures out of willow. Watch as, strand by strand, she builds up an organic-looking artwork on the exterior of Blackwell Arts and Crafts House in the Lake District during the early spring of 2012.
The Wild Flower (Half) Hour Podcast: The Flowers on our Streets
While we’re still limited in how far we can wander, this episode of The Wild Flower (Half) Hour Podcast draws our attention to the plants that thrive in our local landscapes. Leif Bersweden leads us on a guided wildflower walk, while Chris Packham and Martha Kearney reveal their favourite wild blooms.
“I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
Who better to lead the charge on safeguarding the wonders of spring for future generations than the pioneering Greta Thunberg? Starting with her one-person school strike for climate justice outside the Swedish Parliament and ending with her wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic to the UN Climate Action Summit, this is the incredible story of an inspirational young woman and her galvanising global impact.
‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ by William Wordsworth
While it might not scoop prizes for originality, we couldn’t really create a springtime playlist and not include Wordsworth’s quintessential ode to daffodils…
Resonating with timely relevance, Wordsworth’s evocative verse reminds us of how transformational experiences in nature can take root mentally. They linger on in our memory or, as Wordsworth puts it, remain etched “upon that inward eye”: leaving us with a touchstone of inspiration to call upon in “vacant” or “pensive” moments:I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.