Nature Walk (ASMR, Meditation, Sleep-aid)

Nature Walk (ASMR, Meditation, Sleep-aid)

Do you remember where we began? On a sunny morning, in a field of wildflowers. The bright red poppies, the gently drooping bluebells, the periwinkle windmills. The warm breeze making the little soft hairs of your arm ripple like wavelets on the sea. The fresh, lightly scented air of honeysuckle and citrus. The drift of the clouds; the play of light and shadow on the fields. 

As we walk, a butterfly flits towards us. It’s a small miracle, a velvet-wish, a sky-petal, alighting on your shoulder, brushing it’s iridescent wings against your cheek, then lifting off again, taking its erratic path back through the air, fluttering nowhere in particular, as if its beauty protects it from all harm; as if living for a day is living forever. 

We’ll cut a path to the river now, hear the grass swishing under foot, feel it gently whipping our shins. As we draw near to the stream, it begins to thin out and the sound of water grows closer. Soon, the ground is a mossy carpet underfoot, broken up with a stone or boulder here and there. Then the river appears. It’s just a gathering of raindrops, but its music is loud enough to drown out any sound, its weight is strong enough to tear through the landscape. Let’s rest beside the flowing waters now, watch the wind toss leaves into the water like gold and copper coins into the wishing well. See them carried away, past a fallen log jammed between the rocks. Past the seedling craning up out of the soft wood, drawing life out of death. Past a tiny solitary flower growing through the gap in the rocks so boldly.

We forget sometimes – as the earth rotates beneath our feet, that winter and summer, day and night don’t really come and go, they just move. The sun will always be rising somewhere; the snow is never all melted; a wind is always blowing; heatwaves always rising. The river flows everywhere – from the rain droplets gathering at the source, through the rocks, over the waterfall, right to the mouth of the ocean. And our present turns into the past, our experience into memory, as the stream rubs it as smooth as a pebble. 

Midday. Above us, the sky rumbles. A long reef-break of clouds tumbles toward us. We hope for it to roll over us with a refreshing rain. We smell it coming. We wait for it. It seems it’s never going to arrive. Then, like a quick intake of breath, it comes and folds us in its cool shroud. We smile as it hits and begins pleasantly needling us, pitting the water of the stream, bouncing off the rocks, impinging on the mossy earth, it’s soft continuous rumble lying like a pad of cotton wool over our ears, as we eventually rise and move to shelter under the trees. And still it comes plunging through the awning of the leaves, like pearls scattered, falling on the arms of the trees, on the ferns, on the logs, on the lichen … falling everywhere … making the sweet scent of the earth rise all around us. 

And then as quickly as it came, it subsides to no more than a tickling mist, and then that too is gone, and all that’s left is the scattered clicks and pops of drops falling from the leaves.

The light returns, and slowly the forest resumes humming softly, murmuring its song. 

We follow the stream down past the arrowhead pines, through the wispy waterfall of birch leaves, the straight spines of spruce, past a willow melting like ice cream. 

All afternoon we walk under the strength and patience of trees. They’re still growing, though imperceptibly. Growing through the resistance of gravity, and growing still, through the weight of the morning dew, through the stifling ivy, through the bitter ice of winter, the dry winds of summer. They simply stand still and endure, knowing resistance creates strength. Like us, they’re flourishing and growing in ways we can’t even perceive. They know that strength and courage is found in the seemingly small and insignificant. Take the seedpod. Hold it in your hand. Stare into it for long enough, and you’ll see inside its heart is a forest.

As the river turns away from the trees, brilliant sunlight warms our shoulders and slowly dries us. The clouds above break up and gather loosely in the blue, like boats moored in the harbour. And above those, high streaks of white, swirling, patterned with the fingerprint of the breeze. 

Late in the day, the lake emerges into our field of vision. We’re there before our feet can carry us. Our minds settle on it like an autumn leaf falling. The water’s still and glassy, reflecting the different shades of the trees – the fresh limey greens, the burnt oranges, the golden yellows. But the lake sleeps, submerged in the deep blues. Throw a little pebble in with me. Hear its sound. See the first circle expanding, pulling another from the water, and that pulling another, and another. The lake still sleeps, but it spreads its dreams … right through the colours it reflects as the afternoon moves on and the sun begins to set. We see the last rays spreading across the sky, across the lake, like heat waves from a candle flame burning in wax of pinks and peaches, releasing the honeydew scent of night flowers. In these moments, as the colour drains and darkness sets in, we’re allowed to hold hands, and reflect, to think of our love as a light that burns a hole into the night. As the first star in the sky. 

And slowly, night scatters her grains all over our field of vision, wrapping around the lake and the land. There’s no weight of darkness; there are no shadows. A tree of stars emerges, hanging thick with tiny bright fruit. Their reflected light falls on the world like snow, like the softness of sleep, settling on the lake … surrounding the moon, that floating wish lantern, around which everyone gathers their hopes. 

Now, we’ll return home. It’s not far. The moon will follow us. We can already see the lights flickering in the window. The embers of the fire still burning. Just a few more steps. Here we are. Let’s go in, lie down, and share the warmth of our bodies.

Matthew Harris‘s work has been published in Landfall, Poetry NZ, JAAM, Trout, takahē, Kokako, Mayhem, The Quick Brown Dog, and Catalyst and his NZ Film Commission funded short films have played at festivals such as Tribeca, Palm Springs, and Clermont-Ferrand, and have won over 40 international awards.


  1. I listened to this on the balcony, in stillness and cold of the late evening. Your poetic descriptions of the scenery and the raspiness of your voice lolled me straight into relaxation. It was quite sensory. I’m glad both the audio and the text are included, because listening to and reading this are two different experiences. It was only after I read it that I realized how many beautiful details I missed in a daze and was able to enjoy them from a literary point of view. I love how you explore our perception of time and experiences through the unchanging dynamic of nature and how seamlessly you interweave the two. It’s perfectly summed up in the 4th paragraph, which might just make it my favorite. I look forward to reading and listening more of your work.

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