The simplicity and the beauty of this project call me back to my earliest memories in nature.
“In my particular case, the first memories I have of being in a non-urban environment, where in my grandfather’s small garden; we spent long mornings and afternoons in that orchard. I do not remember at what age I started. We used to plough and sow the earth. Under the shade of two pines. We looked after the plants and observed how them grew. With patience, we hoped that the fruits of the garden would be ripe to harvest them. In a way, my grandfather, as with the plants, took care of me and he witnessed my growing. Providing the necessary nutrients. Those that nutrients that don’t come with food.
He was a man with a special connection to the earth. Mixture of extreme rigidity, passion and love. Also, passion for the sun and sea. A man at peace with himself. There was no doubt about his relationship with the earth. Generation after generation they had gutted it, but my great-grandfather did not want his children and grandchildren, unlike previous generations, to work in the mines of Rio Tinto. They left the place some years after the so-called Rio Tinto events, which, according to many historians, was “the first environmental demonstration in history”.
With my grandfather I learned the cycles of the day, of the seasons; i.e. I learned to map life in natural cycles. I learned to love the earth. To take care of other living beings. Other entities that actually take care of me. Without them I cannot live.
Later, “I started to go deeper into the forest, I would be eight or nine years old, I would get lost in the immensity of the Mediterranean forest, a hot and dry forest in the summer, warm and humid in the winter – at least it used to be like that. A forest full of life, in which the Aleppo pines were mixed with other pines, oaks and cork oaks. These treetops decorate the sky. At half height, the fig trees, and above, the strawberry trees. Other plants and bushes created habitats and shelters in the ground.
Like my grandfather, the Mediterranean forest goes down to visit the sea, through the rocks, encircling the beaches with a gravel that resists being sand, in an infinite waltz with the sea. Small multi coloured bodies that end up blurring in a larger body of homogeneous colour. They remind me that individual entities, in some cases, end up blurring in society.
My parents, fed up with the fact that I did not arrive on time, bought a whistle, the kind used to call dogs. It had a high-pitched sound and that was that. I did not have to be aware of time, I could let myself lose in the eternal moments of the forest. I remember with special affection my walks among the ferns, submerged among its green and twisted branches, in autumn and winter. The spores on the inside still remind me of the suckers on the arms of the octopus. Letting myself be carried away by what I found, I started my own museum without a name. Perhaps today it can be the museum of the natural objects of the moments lived in the forest. Broken eggs, witnesses of a new being; nests in the ground, vestiges of a new cycle; bones of animals, like the stumbling of a life; stones of strange shapes and coloured feathers.
I began to taste the moisture in my skin, in my bones, in the shoes and socks wetted by the water that filtered when walking among the wet grass. To enjoy clothes soaked by the water of winter rains in contact with the heat of my body. To touch and feel the textures of the leaves and bark of the trees. Hear the noise of the forest and learn how it marks the activity of day and night. The cuckoo and the owls took turns. Seagulls flew over the rocks with their sharp sounds. With their squawks they indicated that the storm was arriving. I learned to travel through the smells of the forest and to observe their colours, of unlimited shades of greens, browns, blues, greys… To savour the light of the forest and the texture of the air. To track animals; to track your daily history. To follow my intuition. To let the earth guide my steps and my dreams. That will mark the slow movement of my tendons and muscles. That will assure my steps. I learned to enjoy the forest. In the forest I felt at home – until they blew the whistle.”
I never thought that this passion would become my job, that it would end up having a name: Forest Bathing walks and Forest Therapy. A way in which we can support people to improve their health and well-being. Also, preventing stress, depression, burnout, among others situations.
Extract from “Sentir el bosque: La experiencia del Shinrin-Yoku (baño de bosque)”, Alex Gesse, Grijalbo, edited by Penguin Random House Editorial Group.