Day one of the Mindful Creative Retreat was a huge success and I was looking forward to kicking off day two with my own writing workshop. We met outside Roseisle Forest in Burghead and spent the morning wandering along winding trails within the 1700 acre Scots pine woodland. It was a boiling hot day so we kept to the shade beneath the trees.
For me, good nature writing uses all the senses. Although describing sights is the most obvious, incorporating sounds, smells and textures really brings a piece to life. I encouraged everyone to look down as well as up, noticing the way the sun shines on spiderwebs and pinecones scuff underfoot.
I was pleased to see the fungi in Roseisle was already abundant – a welcome reminder that autumn is nearly here. Beside every tree was a fungus of some sort, varying widely in colour, size and shape. We spent a lot of the morning crawling around on the ground getting photos!
As well as fungi, we found a small wood ant nest right by the path. These red and black insects play an important role in the forest ecosystem, helping with seed dispersal, hunting damaging pests and acting as a food source for badgers and pine martens. Wood ants also provide a parasite removal service for birds, which deliberately scratch the surface of the nest to encourage the ants to spray their feathers with formic acid. This kills the birds’ parasites!
By midday the sun was scorching so we headed to the beach for a paddle. After cooling down, we sat on the sand to write about the morning’s discoveries.
By evening the temperature had cooled and we met up in Hopeman for a walk along the coast. We were lucky enough to have another gorgeous sunset, which lit up the beach and turned the cliffs to gold. There were plenty of juicy blackberries to be plucked and we stopped for a rest in a sheltered cove. Here we enjoyed some rock pooling and I found some tracks in the sand. They were too big for rats so I guessed mink, which I’ve occasionally seen darting over the rocks.
We explored the cove until 9pm when the sun eventually set. Golden colours blended to corals and crimsons and we watched the exact moment the sun disappeared beyond the horizon. Jen commented that it was a special thing to witness because it was a rare occasion you could see the earth turning.
And so we reached the end of another full-on but rewarding day on the retreat. The third and final day featured even more creativity and mindfulness. Coming soon!