Cambridge: A Meditation On Nature

I arrived in Cambridge on a wet night, rain licking the pavements lightly, the bus dropping everyone off in front of an open field. As I waited for my friend to meet me, I had looked around, everything dark and asleep – the buildings and the trees. The street-lamps like thin giants keeping one bright eye open. The quiet sound of the rain like a gentle lullaby. When we finally walked back to the apartment, this was what everything else looked like. Asleep. We walked pass buildings, pubs, crossed a bridge over still water.

Cambridge: A Meditation On Nature - ClapwayPhoto Courtesy of Diana Rahim

The next day, we opened the door and spilled out onto the sidewalk. The sun was up and everything was alight. The smell of yesterday’s rain lingered and the world seemed scrubbed clean. I had marveled then while we walked at the lush greenery and abundance of flowers. I especially loved the bright, heavy wisteria hanging on the walls. Every flower seemed open to the day to drink in sunlight.

Cambridge: A Meditation On Nature - ClapwayPhoto Courtesy of Diana Rahim

Courtesy of my friend, who studied at Cambridge, we had a walking tour around the campus. I couldn’t help sometimes but touch everything. The petals. Or run hands softly over the bushes as we walked. We walked past a wall almost completely covered with weeds. Cambridge felt like a place for fairies! I quipped, while walking along a canopied path. We went punting and stared often at people lingering by the banks, or crossing bridges. The day went by slowly. We climbed up a hill once to look across. Just below me were a cloud of white flowers. 

I have never been to another place, in my travels, where an appreciation for flowers and greenery was as apparent as it was in the UK. On the way to Cambridge I remember us passing through Bristol and Bath, both places where greenery was allowed to dominate, but softly. It’s a controlled chaos. Who wouldn’t want to be taken over like that?

Cambridge: A Meditation On Nature - ClapwayPhoto Courtesy of Diana Rahim

It’s not there aren’t flowers and greenery where I live, in Singapore. In fact we’re often marketed as a ‘Garden City’. But there’s something different about the thick humid presence of our greenery, marked by our tall rain trees with dirty brown barks, dusty pink bougainvillea bushes and my own walk home lined with coconut trees. It’s a vividly tropical climate. Though I love my country’s greenery in my own way (the branches of the rain tree can captivate me by how wildly they twist!) there was something fresh, quiet and bright about the greenery in parts of the UK I’ve been to. Romantic.

I remember passing through a path where tall trees canopied, and thought to myself, “Why do humans live on the ground and not in the trees?” We did live up there once upon a time, during the earlier periods of our evolutionary process. It’s a romantic question. Not meant to be answered. Perhaps we left the trees to look and walk amongst the flowers.