I’ve been extremely lucky to work with a wonderful theatre company recently – Quirk Theatre – on their most recent show, Rhia and the Tree of Lights; this show is nothing short of magical.
Rhia & The Tree of Lights follows the journey of a British-Indian girl living on the Jurassic Coast who comes across a dusty old box whilst preparing for her last Diwali in her childhood home. She makes exciting discoveries about her Grandma, who lived a rich, colourful life as an Earth Scientist and storyteller of ancient Indian tales!
I’ve been working as a consultant for the natural history and wildlife side of the show, and wrote a small piece for their blog on my journey into nature…
You can view the blog here and don’t forget to buy tickets to the show! – https://www.quirktheatre.co.uk/rhia
If I were to describe my journey into nature, and perhaps limit myself to only to 1 or 2 words, I’d say “treasure hunt”, pretty much fits the bill. The search for beauty in the natural world, for a higher understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of every chase, every interaction, every hive mind, every crawl along the beach, every incredible behaviour, and the gems that are relinquished by this tumbling, weird search…it’s the greatest treasure hunt that ever was.
I don’t use a map. And I don’t intend on ever using one.
I think the chaos and questioning of this excited world, is really the main attraction. Order is comfortable, palpable, easily understood, labelled and boxed away for later.
Nature is so vast, so incredibly royal and gloriously insane. You could experience pretty much every emotion there is under the sun and further, and not have moved more than a few kilometres in a habitat you started searching in. It’s why I keep coming back…this euphoric addiction is just too much to keep me away.
But…a treasure hunt suggests a goal…right? Nature is inherently a hunter and hunted situation…African wild dogs yap commands in the sun-scorched distance, prides of lions prowl the prairies in search of dinner, Zebra jumping spiders flicker like candle lights in winter, pouncing on unwary flies…
When we hunt, we hunt for…something, anything. I guess the analogy kind of works here.
I am searching for something. But I have no clue what it is. And I’m not worried about that. I aim to find many treasures along the journey to whatever goal I am headed towards, and I am never disappointed.
I love to ponder when I walk. Walking down to the coast – as I did often when it was warmer, and sometimes still as it becomes ever more icy and wet – I think about my existence and how my past has brought me to where I am today, or perhaps about a new piece of writing I want to publish, or something I read about wild newts, or…
…oh, what is this…?
I bend down slowly, and there, gleaming from beneath a dried hunk of kelp, in amidst the barnacle encrusted rocks and bitten off crab’s arms (a gull’s legacy I presume), is…a treasure.
Slick with seawater, half submerged in a shimmering rockpool, the Blenny swivelled round suddenly to face me…small mouth forming an indignant “o” as it considered it’s getaway, thinking of me as probably some large predator about to gobble it whole.
The Blenny is a beautiful little species of fish, generally existing in the intertidal area between the great blue world of the greater ocean and the golden sandy or rocky areas of the coast, from here they search for all manner of eatables; ragworms, prawns, sea slates…if it moves and is small enough for this little warrior to consume, it’s best to consider it eulogised after death.
The Blenny wriggled suddenly, and fast as I’d seen it flash in the sun and then discovered it, it was gone, snuggling into a crevasse in the rocks I assume, as is the common nature of these wonderful gems of the brine.
This is often the story of a sandy treasure hunt. You walk and ponder, ponder and walk, reminisce and feel the crunch of sand and stones beneath you, all the while excitedly catching the sky with your eyes, or scraping your vision across the troughs in front of you for any movement, of life or object, that may give you that moments reprise, and allow you a euphoric piece, even just the one, of nature’s great treasure chest.