Once we start to 'grow up', whatever that means (I'm not entirely sure that I have ever really 'grown up') we are encouraged or some times almost bullied by societies expectations to; think bigger, look at the bigger picture, to aim for the stars and if you fall short at least you'll reach the moon.
You only have to look at 52" televisions; improbably large four wheel drive 'cars' (normally it would seem for urban use only and the benefit of one occupant), mobile phones now seemingly the size of hard back books so the latest blockbuster can be watched on it in HD. We are all bombarded by the global picture, we probably know more about what is happening thousands of miles away than we do about the issues in our local neighbourhood. In fact we will use social media to interact with people on the other side of the world and possibly don't even know our next doors neighbours name.
It seems also to be the same with the natural world (a term that I hate as it presupposes that there is an 'unnatural world'). The images you often see are of 'big country', big horizons, big animals.
We look up in awe at 'big' trees, marvel while catching our breath at the 'big hill' we have just walked up.
I have to admit I did the 'big thing' a couple of weekends ago. Looking for woodland to walk Jayne asked "where else is their locally that we haven't really been?". I then rolled off a few options adding 'but they are quite small', somehow indicating that it wouldn't be much of an outing.
As a child and I think it was the same for most of my childhood pals my school was 'vast' the department store's toy section was enormous (especially at Christmas) but my world was small.
My play world consisted (mainly outdoors) of the orchard behind our family home. It held a myriad of 'worlds' depending on the theme of our adventure that day as well as our den built between trees and shrubs and roofed I seem to remember with some old roofing felt we have found and subsequently dragged there. Two dimensional houses were constructed out of mown grass on the field (and woe betide you if you stepped over a wall and didn't use the door!).
The world I inhabited when on my own was even smaller. Nose to the ground, often digging in cracks to force ants to stream out and then herding them with an old washing up liquid bottle filled with water creating minuscule rivers. Sometimes I have to admit to also trying to set fire to ants with my magnifying glass- it never worked they ran too fast.
I inspected everything on the ground and on one occasion presented my mother with some 'brilliant' small white chalky weird stones that turned out to be dog poo.
That may have set a precedent as in the wildlife rescue we spend a lot of time cleaning out poo and looking at samples under the microscope for endo-parasites and on the flip side I look for signs of animal activity (including bats) by spotting their scat.
Now while you might not want to look out for badger latrines (let alone check consistency for clues as to food eaten) or rub small droppings between your fingers (crumbles to dust- Bat, squidgy- bad luck it's rodent!) then you may want to simply look a little closer at the ground or fallen trees and stumps or look for other foraging signs such as the cone above.
A whole other world.
It does mean getting closer to the ground- something most adults seem loathed to do walking vast distances to find a bench. Well we don't want to get the North Face gear dirty.. one reason I avoid anything with a brand on it and pop off to the army surplus store.
But, once on the ground there is a whole fascinating world to be discovered and if you allow your imagination to traverse scale often more scenic and diverse than the landscape you have been noting while walking.
The interior of woodland is one of my favourite places to investigate the ground. Not only does it smell great, inhaling the earthy smell but it yields an amazing array of natural forms (most of which I couldn't name if I tried but that isn't necessary to enjoy it).
Mosses and algae on walls offer the same kind of diverse 'micro worlds', so you don't have to be in the middle of a field or wood to have the experience.
There are flowers down there, miniature ones too, but in truth while I note and appreciate those it is the myriad little forests of green that intrigue me and may possibly do the same for you if you get down close and sometimes dirty with the 'natural world'.
So I guess that the upshot of this is that big adventures can be had in very small spaces. With one parks service I spent days surveying a very small area of reclaimed previously industrial land and still hadn't documented everything that there was to see.
In fact in the most urban of settings these miniature worlds exist where the 'natural world' may not be so immediately evident- there in cracks and on walls for anyone that takes the time to look.
You may find yourself in a landscape that seems featureless on the grander scale but if your get closer to the ground you will most likely find feature rich landscapes in miniature and unlike the survey mentioned above there is no need or pressure to be able to name anything in order to enjoy it.
There is another benefit to getting closer to the ground.. you may be tempted to stop moving for and just sit for a while.
This morning while sitting in the woodland, back to a tree, bees humming past me I was aware of the occasional rustle less than a meter away in among the brown bracken. As I stood to leave a wren burst from the undergrowth now alert to my presence. However for probably three quarters of an hour that wren had shared that patch of woodland in very close quarters and that is worth more to me than seeing the rarest of species.