On a sunny morning, twelve people and two dogs gathered for a Wellbeing Walk up in the ever changing - but always beautiful - Lower Leas Coastal Park, Folkestone.
We chose the iconic Star Wars theme “May the force be with you” to bring us good luck. It also acknowledges that we all can all be heroes - and succeed when all seems lost or to be against us.
We saw for ourselves how spring and nature bring new life and new challenges. They also bring us - great opportunities to bloom, to blossom, to grow, and to adapt to our environment.
Did you know Star Wars Day - as May 4th - is now known has been celebrated since 2011? Although the words were first used about former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's election win in 1979.
Our first sensory treat during our two hour journey into the park were stunning tulips in brilliant shades of pink, red, and purple.
Tulips are a member of the lily family, with more than 75 known species in as many colours as Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. They grow perfectly in the temperate climate of the Coastal Park.
Some of the grassland spaces were white with daisies. We shared memories of making daisy chains and the childhood game playing “loves me, loves me not” by plucking petals.
One folklore story states that if you find a ring of daisies, this symbolises eternity or an encounter that will bring a blessing from God.
The daisy chain has symbolised love and eternal belonging since medieval times. Young women made them to place around the necks of men and and the horses they rode into battle. This showed their everlasting love - and acted to wish them good luck. Perhaps an early form of saying 'May the force be with you'?
The daisy derived its English name from the Anglo-Saxon term daes eage, or 'day's eye'. This refers to the way this flower opens and closes with the sun. Other flowers that do this include the dandelion.
Picking one of these immediately raised the cry - "You’ll wet the bed!" I remember from childhood all my elders saying just the same. They are another flower which until recently were the enemy of most gardeners. Dandelions enjoy a well manicured lawn to grow in.
Find out more about dandelions
One of our group held a dandelion throughout much of the session, ending up with yellow fingers. There is something calming about the velvety soft and gentle petals. Like many flower petals they have calming properties - whether we hold, smell, or look at them.
The whole dandelion, like daisies, is edible, and loved by many insects. So during 'No Mow May', we should let them grow.
Whether in full bloom or in their later downy clocks form, they are always beautiful. It's a a sign that, even in later life, we still blossom and offer beauty for interaction.
There is a lot of greater burdock in the park, especially on the sea side. We were able to get up close and personal with these leaves. One of the images above shows how a leaf was beautifully modelled by our youngest member of the group. The leaves have traditionally have been used as hats to protect from the sun and rain.
Did you know the leaves are known as love leaves? Read more about burdock
As most of these were either Spanish or Hybrid - part English part Spanish - it was legal to pick one and study it closer.
We couldn't risk picking an English one as these are home to the fae folk in spring. This was not the day to be hunted down and whisked away to the underworld for a dressing down by angry fairies. As fo
r children, they will never be seen again if upsetting a fairy.
Folklore around bluebells is aplenty. Sadly there are concerns that as the Spanish one becomes more prominent, that we could lose our native bluebell altogether.
The hawthorn is one of three trees that are home to the fairies - the others are Blackthorn and Rowan. There are many folklore and tales regarding this tree, also known as the May Tree.
If you cut this tree down, the fairies will pursue you and bring you harm. Even now, when building new houses, the hawthorn will be left in place and built around. Even in a farm field or park, you may often see a lonesome hawthorn.
Read more about hawthorn folklore
The forces of nature were certainly with us - both for good and bad luck. We spent a few minutes toasting the forces we hope for in the coming months. The final force was a healing few minutes
We stood in quiet contemplation listening to the sea, the wind, a robin and other birds singing, and feeling the sun and wind upon our faces, at one with our environment.
There is only one to sign off, - until we meet again - May the force be with you.
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