When I was asked to write an article about how to spend time in the outdoors, I jumped at the chance. The outdoors is my life. I begin my day by looking out into the ancient forest that backs onto my garden and I go to bed with the noises of the woods echoing around my room. The forest is my sanctuary and spending time in this place is, for me, a daily need. The woods have known me since I was 9 years old. I used to run into them after school and they provided me with a very different education. I got lost for hours and returned home with pockets full of interesting things and covered in dirt. When the storm clouds came rumbling, I would shelter in the trees, the only place I felt safe, away from the lightning flashes.
I am lucky enough to own two incredibly beautiful West Highland terriers that go by the names of Poppy and Finlay. My two dogs are involved in almost everything I do, and like me, cannot wait to get their paws on the outside earth. One of my favourite past times is to walk through the woods silently and calmly and to treat this time as an active meditation. I gaze up and all around me, finding the faces in the trees and allowing them to speak to me about the slow and steady pace of their lives. I love my interactions with the creatures I come across in the woods – the deer no longer run from me when we meet each other and it feels as though we are now friends, sharing the beautiful natural space. I listen to the woodpeckers and the owls and I watch the geese as they leave and return.
I watch as the leaves transform from green to golden red in the autumn as they and litter the ground and the skeleton trees begin to hunker down against the cold. In the spring, I sense when the sap begins to rise, the trees begin to yawn and stretch and I marvel at the buds which begin to swell. My love of the spring colours morphs into lazy afternoons spent in slumber in the cool summer shade. The woods are my home and I commute to my house for work. I still love walking in these woods during gales and storms, feeling the branches of the trees flex and bend with the wind.
As a Shaman, a lot of my work involves working with the seasons and cycles. I take groups into the woods and we create mandalas and natural woodland art using the seasons’ vegetation. I host children’s sessions on my land with the forest guiding our activities as we use our imagination to hunt for fairies, play games and build dams, dens and bridges, whatever the weather.
Samara Jacobs lives in Reading, within the woodland around Padworth. She works as a Forest School Practitioner and also as a Shaman or Energy Medicine Woman, offering clients a way to shift old patterns and behaviours. She works with children, hosting children’s sessions on her land to teach them how to engage with the natural world. She also runs courses on the language of trees, natural medicine and woodwork as well as community and women’s groups. Samara has written books on the wisdom of trees. Her website is www.wildwoodjourneys.co.uk