St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Creative writing/ nature arts

nature arts

[March 2020] Sadly, due to the COVID-19 lockdown we’ve had to suspend all our Ecotherapy group activities. However, our tutor Emma McKenzie is keeping in touch with the participants, and anyone who fancies some creative exercises, via her blog Letters from the Allotment. Emma invites you to connect to nature through words – her blog will feature poems and letters as well as creative exercises to help our mental health.

This group is normally run on Wednesdays in partnership with the Discovery Hub and Converge based at York St John University. The 10 week course alternates between nature based Creative Writing and Observational Drawing and Art. Both groups start with a short walk around the nature reserve followed by the introduction of a theme for the morning’s writing or art. The sessions are an exciting way to develop creativity while making new discoveries about nature through observation.

Below are just a few examples of the Ecotherapy group’s writing and artful creations. Enjoy and get in touch if you think you’d benefit from some ecotherapy.


Creative observations sheetHope In Our Rain
by Esther Clare Griffiths

Branches weave tight into a drenched sky
Leaves glisten, spiral slumbering down
Bark wafer curls, moss dappled high
Searching for truth, tumbling, found.

Our arms stretch small to reach you
Through grey banked cloud, mists of time envelop night
Inky sky stretches, trees shiver whispers new
Into your palm a cascade of light.

Dewfall drips a cold crystal tear
Turning slow, bright stars splash unseen
I take your hand through our fear
Splintered trust mends each crack verdant green.

A wake up whisper, a bird calls
Nature spreads healing roots under breaks of pain
We stand amid glades of autumnal fall
Reigning majestic She soars, a glimmer of hope in our rain.

I’ll Always Remember You The Same
by Esther Clare Griffiths

I’ll always remember you the same
Eyes like wild flowers within demons of change
The fury of a forgotten dream wrapped in pain
A whisper of your past, a window of change
I’ll always remember you the same
Your foot tapping to a beat in your head
A fringe clouding your eyes, changing lanes
Bittersweet shock of melancholy words she said
I’ll always remember you the same
Drenched fingers stretched across a guitar
Your children’s chalky lines smudge the rain
Winter steals away her joy, Spring shadows seem far
I’ll always remember you the same
Your heart hurt, wrapped itself in spiky thorns
Slow sunlight plays across your face and hides
Windows open, a new start creeps, no more torn.

Every Break in my Heart
by Esther Clare Griffiths

He was leaving again, stealing a part of me, sending sadness through every vein. Stooping, he picked a pebble and gave it to me, shy smile, a flash of pain flickering in his eyes. I took it, glad to have soft, smooth, solace. Grey flint, sharp edges, silky sides turning in my hand, eeking comfort. Brief hug and ‘love yous’, my hand tightened round the cold stone, like I could take him away in my pocket. Always with me, never leaving, constant, safe in smiles. A single silver tear brushed away, unseen, shy of pain in front of him, still shielding my little brother, wanting him safe, free from every break in my heart.

Ecotherapy: bike created from twigs

A bicycle model created during a session using found objects to recreate St Nicks – click on the image to see more

Hope Crackling
by Esther Clare Griffiths

“Let’s make a swing!” Her excitement was so stark, pure. I felt myself swept into her miniature, fairy world. Grabbing a small, scraggy, flat piece of seaweed, we made a slide, little seats with tiny pebbles and a table from a skimming stone. “What about a tunnel?” her eyes were lit, alive and completely lost in the moment. We used sticks to make tiny tunnels, a network of criss crossing burrows. A pool for the fairies to swim was trickier, each scoop of water melted into the sand. She looked dismayed for a second, then an idea, ‘it could be a sludge lagoon for the fairies to glide in”.

We decorated the sludge lagoon with inzy pebbles round the sides, “so they know where the edges are”. Hope crackling, constant, lighting her own galaxy. I scooped her into my arms and we laughed, delighted with our fairy world and each other.

A beautiful poem written by a member of our creative writing ecotherapy group on how nature improves wellbeing.

A beautiful poem written by a member of our creative writing ecotherapy group on how nature improves wellbeing.

By Brinley Price

As I grow old I start to vegetate,
Become a garden thick with vegetation;
I’ve gone to seed now, having flowered of late;
Just being is my present occupation.

And yesterday I potted cowslip seeds;
The sun was blazing and my mind was calm;
A simple humble task is all one needs,
To just sit still and hold life in one’s palm.

So many years I built the world’s machine –
I’ve gained a perspex trophy for my toil –
But now I roam through spaces that are green
And plant these tiny living things in soil.

And peace and joy are now once more the soul’s;
The hidden meaning of it all I see,
That was obscured by clouds of aims and goals:
The purpose of existence is to be.

This page was last updated 31 Mar 2020