I named my blog after the New Zealand bellbird (in Māori, korimako) – and not just because my last name is Bell. I have always loved birds: for their beauty and intense fragility, the sense of freedom they represent, and for their song. The bellbird is particularly gorgeous. The explorer Captain Cook wrote of its song: “it seemed to be like small bells most exquisitely tuned”. I write on my business website that the bellbird’s song is clear, melodious, and perfectly composed – just like a great piece of writing.

A singing bellbird

I’m a member of the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Island, a stunning wildlife sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf for New Zealand’s native birds, and an important conservation project. From the moment you step onto the island to the moment you leave, you’re serenaded by birdsong, and bellbirds are numerous. I love going there to hike and read and simply sit and observe, and to listen. I always arrive back in Auckland (a 75-minute ferry trip away) refreshed and grounded.

I also love to hike, and an ideal weekend for me would be one spent walking alone in native bush, surrounded by birdlife. (Oh all right, throw in a hot shower and wine and then it would be ideal.)

Nature feeds and nurtures us. It forces us to stop, and to marvel. It reminds us we are not the only worthy lifeform on this planet, and that we only have as much right to be here as every other creature. It invites us to put down our devices and notice what is around us, in front of us, above us, growing and whispering and singing and feeding and…being. Living. It grounds us and helps us to put things in perspective.

As we head into an uncertain 2021, the words of Mary Oliver seem so very pertinent:

What, in the earth world,
is there not to be amazed by
and to be steadied by
and to cherish?

Oh, my dear heart,
my own dear heart,
full of hesitations,
questions, choice of directions,
look at the world.

(From “The Singular and Cheerful Life”)