Nature Journaling

You don't need fancy supplies to keep a nature journal
By Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator 

This is an exciting time of year. These late February days bring ten and a half hours of daylight in Vermont, and the sun feels warmer. Resident birds are singing their springtime calls, and the air smells a little bit muddy. March is usually a snowy month in Vermont, so we are patient for flowers and true spring, but early signs are all around us.

Nature journaling is a fun way to capture these signs of changing seasons. My little daughter and I have kept a nature journal for the past few years, and it is fun to look back on things we observed in past Februaries, and compare them to things we see today.

It is also fun to look back and read about summer camping trips during cold winter months. Our nature journal reminds us of the details of our experiences we might otherwise not quite remember. We enjoy looking back and remembering the worms we dug before fishing at Boulder Beach State Park, or the very first time my daughter was brave enough to jump off the pier at Silver Lake State Park.

You do not need anything fancy to keep a nature journal. I bought an inexpensive spiral bound sketch pad at a pharmacy near Allis State Park while we were camping and feeling inspired to capture our memories. Later I splurged and bought some nice color pencils in a tin case at a fancy art store in Bennington while visiting Woodford State Park. I wanted the pencils in a case to make transporting our nature journaling supplies easier, but you do not need that. We started our journal with crayons and a ball point pen.

Go outside with your journal! Inspiration can strike anywhere
You do not need to regularly write in your nature journal for it to be meaningful, occasional entries
will be fun to look back on later. You do not need to be a great artist to keep a nature journal (I am not!), my daughter and I both draw illustrations while we are outside, and back at home after a good woods wander. I love asking her what words she wants to share about our adventures, and looking back on those words later is meaningful. I will often write short descriptions of what we observed, or interesting and funny things that happened. We keep our nature journal out on the coffee table all the time, so if we happen to see an interesting bird outside our window and feel inspired, we can quickly grab the book and jot down a sketch or a sentence about the experience.

Our nature journal helps us feel connected to changing seasons, and gives us great memories to reflect on later. Grab a notebook and record your observations and memories too.

“Let me keep my mind on what matters which is my work which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.”
― Mary Oliver

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