My mum, a British physicist, married my dad, an American meteorologist, who was obsessed with hurricanes and so the first few years of my childhood were spent in Florida. What I remember all takes place outside. The changing light. Seasons of wet and dry. Heat and humidity. Thunderstorms. Lightning. Hurricanes. Cyclones. Torrential rain. The Everglades. Tropical wetlands shaped by fire and water. Sawgrass prairies. Cypress swamps. Pine trees. Avocados, oranges, mangos, limes.
Catching snapping turtles with my dad on the lakes. Fishing for bluegills. Red-throated anole lizards that changed color in your hands. Blue land crabs scuttling in the garden. Baby turtles hatching on white sand beaches in the full moon. Crocodiles lurking in the canals. Frogs. Snakes. Insects. Oh, so many insects! Fireflies. Swamp cicadas. Treehoppers. Praying mantis. Beetles. Mosquitos. Cockroaches. Butterflies. Wasps. Ants.
All these I loved and more.
But then my mum and dad divorced, and we returned to Britain. It was a traumatic event of losing everything that I knew and loved. Britain was a biodiversity desert in comparison to the tropics of southern Florida, and I felt completely lost and deeply unhappy. Heartbroken. I could not make friends, and I could not relate to the landscape around me. I was bullied at school for being weird and I felt more and more like an alien. I began to hide my strangeness and practiced masking so that I could fit in and not be seen. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was an autistic child who did not fit in, and I would always struggle to appear normal.
I never lost my love or connection to the wild, but it took about 20 years for me to fully reclaim the deep nature connection I had as a young child, and it took much longer to realize I was autistic. The journey has been long, arduous and painful. Painful, because as an autistic woman, I had always been highly sensitive and empathic, and to be acutely awake and alive to the beauty of the natural world, is to be acutely awake and alive to the destruction of that world. As Aldo Leopold said: “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” Not only do I live alone in a world of wounds, but as an autistic woman I’m obsessed with truth and justice, and so I’m unable to stand by and do nothing. I feel compelled to take a stand for the earth, to be the voice for those that have no voice.
The truth is that the web of life is unraveling at a rapid pace. Biodiversity is on the decline. Habitat destruction is on the rise. Our modern ways of life are breaking the spider threads that weave us all together. We are killing the planet, and in the process we are killing ourselves. All of us are complicit in this murder, to one degree or another. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to wake up to this reality and do everything we can to fight for what we love, to fight for life. To reweave the web of life.
This blog is about restoring the wilderness and the wild, both within ourselves and in the outer landscapes of the natural world. It’s a call to action, to explore the interrelationship between biodiversity and neurodiversity, to understand how the health of the earth and human health are intimately interlinked. It’s a call to rewild not only the earth’s ecosystems, but also our human systems, our culture and communities, our minds, hearts, bodies, and souls. It’s an invitation to unplug from the destructiveness of industrial civilization, to wake up to our animal selves. To enter into a reciprocal relationship with the living Earth. To be Wild Awake.