Natalie at work on Abronhill Bog, (C) Aimee Moretti 2022

At this time of year, I think it’s very appropriate to talk about new beginnings. As a DreamWorks character stated “Easter is new beginnings, new life. Easter is about hope,” and so is Spring itself.

Hello, I’m Natalie, a new Trainee with Cumbernauld Living Landscape and I’m very new to conservation as my background is actually in childcare, which I studied at the age of 17. Now, at 37, I am on a new path, a new beginning.

It started, like so many things, with the pandemic. As Scotland went back into its second Lockdown, my mental health began to decline. Unfortunately, it got worse throughout the first half of 2021, until I felt that I could no longer do my job. I left that summer, with the only certainty being that I wanted to move into a whole new industry, but no idea which.

At the time I saw that as an ending but, looking back, it was really a beginning. That autumn, I followed the example of the natural world: as nature began to wind down, I began to focus on mental rest. I started volunteering with the Nature Ninjas group and being outdoors, even once a week, meeting people, learning new things about nature and feeling like I was accomplishing something, played a major part in my healing. I had found where I wanted to be.

So, it seems very fitting that this spring, at a time for new beginnings, new life, I was offered the opportunity of this traineeship. As I go around Cumbernauld, I see the world shaking itself from its long winter slumber, and I feel myself doing the same. As the trees begin to bud and blossom, I feel my mind opening to new experiences. As the birds build their nests and bring the sound of life back, I feel my spirits rise with their song. As flowers bloom, so does the smile on my face.

I love something about every season, but the special thing about spring is coming out of the darkness, and this year I feel it more than ever, and I hope that many of you feel the same. Please, take the opportunity this spring to go outside, go for a walk, listen to the birds, look for trees whose leaves are already unfolding. Look for new beginnings in the natural world, as you look for them in your own.

Spring is hope.

Written by Natalie Dunn, our current Trainee for the Creating Natural Connections project. 

Laura Healy Smith