Hands-on experience at the critical time, not systematic knowledge, is what counts in the making of a naturalist. Better to be an untutored savage for a while, not to know the names or anatomical detail. Better to spend stretches of time just searching and dreaming.
Edward O. Wilson, Naturalist - from Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth.
I love these words because it takes the pressure off. Too easily, I get caught up in the belief that my children must learn every detail of what we observe in nature and know every aspect of what we draw in our ongoing nature journals. When this feeling starts creeping up on me, I return to the lovely book quoted above. Please humor me as I share our Autumn Schole and more quotes from Keeping a Nature Journal, my favorite nature journaling resource.
The purpose of nature journaling is to study
where you live and how you relate to it. Season by season, habitat by habitat.
Don't judge your drawing. You are not an artist yet. You are a scientist, simply recording what you see, in this moment in time.
Simply put, nature journaling is the regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world around you.
Remind yourself that you are keeping the journal to learn, to observe, record, and fully appreciate. This is not an art exercise or any kind of test. You are doing this for yourself, and your own enjoyment.
Keeping and sharing nature journals with members of our immediate families or extended families helps all of us develop our observational skills, and is fun as well. It offers a chance to learn about each other's perspectives, values, and interests. For children, this process is a great way to develop a wide range of skills, since journaling is truly multidisciplinary. Keeping a nature journal over time will reveal the young journalist's gradual learning and skills development.
We owe ourselves these moments of connection, reflection, understanding, and calm. Nature is there for all of us to experience no matter where we live, no matter how joyous or distressed we may be - the sky overhead, the trees out our window, the bird that flies, the rain that falls.
By setting aside a bit of time each day to become absorbed in just being - in the present moment, alone with yourself in nature - you will find yourself refreshed, refocused, and better able to approach the rest of your day. As one eight-year-old said after an outdoor session of nature journaling, "Boy, I have seen the day."
I hope that I've encouraged you to see the day.