In an effort to connect and learn more about the natural world around me, I’ve started my first official nature journal. I’ve been reading so many great books on the importance of being outdoors- the physical and psychological benefits; I’ve been reading about how to become more aware of my environment and all the fascinating things happening right under my nose and above my head; and I’ve been gathering ideas on how to enjoy my time outdoors even more than I already do.
For all of my random collecting of random pretty things, you’d think that I would’ve started a journal already, but no, I just keep loose leaves, dried flowers and stray feathers in a jar (okay, it’s a Tupperware bowl, but jar sounds nicer). While I love to go out early mornings and listen to the birds and check out the sky, I’ve never thought about identifying the birds or types of clouds.
Last night I grabbed my vintage opera glasses and checked out the night sky. These binoculars are the love of my life and because they’re so beautiful it never crossed my mind to use them outdoors. Obviously, I’ll be needing a more rugged pair.
Don’t you just love them!
Back to the night sky: the moon, I learned, with the help of the internet, is in its waxing crescent phase. Although it was just a sliver, the light shining from it was so bright that it was difficult to make out details on its surface. I learned that there are luminosity scales, and that last night’s moon was at 19%. With my binoculars, I was also able to see stars that weren’t visible to the naked eye. In my journal, I made notes of the types of clouds- cirrus, the wispy kind; the sounds and smells- crickets and ripe mangoes; the feel- a light breeze and fucking mosquitoes that eventually drove me inside.
I like to experiment with journal styles whenever it’s time to buy because we don’t know what we don’t know. For instance, one of my recent purchases was a set of 3. These thin, stitched, and lined Moleskine journals are a definite first for me. I always felt like I needed a journal with a lot of pages, obviously because they last longer, but these smaller sets have changed my opinion. I love that they fit easily into most of my bags without taking up much space; they’re practically weightless, and I have more flexibility in how I use them.
One can be for personal writing, another for jotting down ideas and rough drafts, and another for, you guessed it, nature journaling. Of course, you could use them in whatever way suits you best, but for the cost of a single journal, you can’t beat the flexibility and convenience.
This morning my goal was to listen to the birds and just make observations. I watched blackbirds walking through lawns pecking and small brown birds chasing each other in the sky. To my surprise, I could identify (with the help of a handy chart) four types of clouds mixing together in the sky. I don’t know why I was surprised, I just was. It was kind of fun to identify them. I’m a real scientist now. Here’s the prettiest chart I could find on short notice. I’d be great for someone to create design something prettier.
I was also able to identify my first bird, a Boat-tailed Grackle, with its song. I’m embarrassingly proud of this. Though I’d never heard of a Boat-tailed Grackle or any sort of grackle in my life, I realize that I’ve been listening to it my whole life. It also appears to reside in Florida more than any other place. The tool I used to identify it is the Merlin app developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You can find it in the google play or visit their website for an online search.
I hope that you’ve been encouraged to get outside and soak up the beautiful things happening all around us. Every bit counts. Trust me, it’ll be good for you. And if you don’t believe me, here are some smart people who have written books! These are affiliate links.
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My name is Lyz-Stephanie and I want to inspire you to be more connected to yourself and the world, to find beauty in simple pleasures, and to have more adventures. Every day we can do something to make our lives happier and richer, make our minds more active and engaged. I’m on the journey. Will you join me?