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Intoxicated with Beauty

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.

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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.

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Don’t you just love them!

nature journal binoculars and morning coffee iwannabealady.com

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.

nature journals and morning coffee iwannabealady.com

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.

types of clouds nature journals iwannabealady.com

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.

The Nature Fix

The Hidden Life of Trees

The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs

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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?

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15 thoughts on “Intoxicated with Beauty

  1. I love, love, loved my meteorology class in high school! I’ve always loved weather and clouds- pretty much how the world works (though I took geology in college and wasn’t a fan…). Fun fact: clouds are flat on the bottom. You can’t see it because of the angle we naturally observe them from, but it’s because when the water drops hit a certain altitude (depending on the density of the droplets), they evaporate. 🙂 I’m such a weather nerd and I love it!!

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    1. Yesss, I’m so happy you connect with this. I know most people are probably like, clouds, whatever, but I love science and nature so much, ugh. Our high school had nothing like a meteorology class, just the basic earth/space science that covered everything very generally. Everything that I felt lackadaisical about in high school I’m researching now on my own and feeling excited about.

      I have noticed a few flat clouds (I think) and they always look so cool. I feel like I only notice with thunderclouds… or should I say cumulonimbus. That word is so hard to say!

      I wasn’t a fan of geology at all, but maybe it was just presented in such a boring way, like even the teacher could care less, lol. If I could’ve gone to a museum that houses gemstones and pretty crystals I may have changed my mind.

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      1. Well my geology teacher loved the subject, but his delivery left much to be desired. Plus it was an evening class that last 2.5 hours twice a week… we did get extra credit if we took a trip up to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum and completed a scavenger hunt. Now that was cool!

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      2. It was also in my geology class that we got to take a field trip to the local quarry where we saw actually dinosaur footprints embedded in the stone. That was almost an out of body experience for me!

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        1. The closest we’ve gotten to prehistoric that I know of down in Florida is visiting the Everglades to watch alligator wrestling. I can imagine seeing something like that would feel surreal! If only they can make a theme park like Jurassic Park with fake dinosaurs that look real. If only…

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  2. GIRL, HAVE YOU OPENED THE FLOODGATES. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? YOU NEED TO GET READY FOR THIS. HERE WE GO!

    1. Get yourself a leuchtturm1917 journal and some Faber-Castell “Pitt Pens”; Yes, L1917s are a bit on the bigger side… But they’re archival quality AND come with archive stickers, and you can get a variety of sizes and paper types (grid, dotted, lined). And the FC Pit Pens are one of the few brands that won’t bleed through the other side of the paper as much; if you want your journals to last, it’s the combo I use and personally recommend.

    2. National Audubon Society Field Guides! If you’re in North America, these little guys are great; I own three of them: Birds, Trees, and Fossils (though I rarely use the Fossil one). They’ve got color photography, habitat maps, and decent little vignettes that are suuuper helpful in identifying what you’re looking at. (I have other suggestions for field guides, too, if you want them)

    3. Whatbird.com is amazing, if a little rudimentary; it allows you quick lookup by state, color, “type” (perching, water, etc), and a whole list of other things that makes it a good place to START in terms of trying to identify birds by appearance.

    4. allaboutbirds.org, on the other hand, is a great place to confirm your identifications as it gives you more information as well as multiple song samples (distress, mating, normal call, etc) when available. They also rely on photography to help you identify them instead of drawings- which I’ve found more helpful. Occasionally there are even video clips!

    5. LOOK A THE GROUND !!! Seriously, you’d be surprised how many native flowers are right beneath your feet that you don’t even notice because their flowers are too small for them to register unless we’re looking for them! And on that note: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (wildflower.org) is a great (though not extensive) resource for identifying them when you find them!

    I could literally keep going but I’mma stop now. ENJOY!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You said a flood was coming, so I built my arc and got ready! I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you’re into birds, lol. So, allaboutbirds.com is the site run by the same people who created the Merlin app that I’m using for identification. I haven’t seen any labeled distress or mating yet, but I look forward to it. One thing I didn’t expect is that birds like the Blue Jay would have sooo many different songs. I’m learning a lot already!

      It the rainy season right now, but I’d love to get out to the woods early and see what I can find. With binoculars, I think a whole world will be opened up which I’m super excited about. I used to think bird watching must be the most boring hobby imaginable but turns out I was just a dumb kid. It feels good to not just say I wish I could identify more birds and plants but actually take steps to learn.

      That book I recommend, The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs is also going to be a great resource all around. Let me also say that I love wildflowers and am really looking forward to checking out wildflower.org. Thank you so much! I never even thought of that. I’ve collected quite a few bundles that I’ve pressed and it’ll be cool to add them to my journal and label them. It’s great to have someone to share my excitement with, Anna. xoxo

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  3. Hey, isn’t it amazing what you see when you start looking? Congratulations on discovering Mother Nature. Just one word of advice – don’t ever beat yourself up about how much/little you know about any of it. No matter how much you eventually know ( and there is an endless amount of stuff to learn!), there will always be someone who knows more and more for you to find out. It’s fantastic. Just get out there and enjoy it – who cares if you can identify it.
    My mum raised me to love nature and wildlife, so I’ve always had an interest which eventually led me to a career. However, I have never heard of the bird you name as I’m in the UK!
    I have a similar pair of old binoculars like yours that were my mums, which sit on the shelf in remembrance of her. Once you get a modern pair you’ll be hooked, lol. Enjoy! I’ll look forward to reading of your discoveries xx

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    1. Thanks so much, Hilary for the excellent advice. Even if I studied day and night, there’s no way in this lifetime to ever know everything. I have often found myself sitting in one patch of wood for an hour just making observations and collecting random pretty things, studying different ants in different environments. I’ve always loved being outdoors, but the older I get the more interested I’ve become and the more deeply I’ve immersed myself. I can’t imagine the fun I’ll have with a pair of sturdy modern binoculars. I might go missing for days at a time! xx

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  4. I’m obsessed with this cloud identification chart!!!! More so, I’m obsessed with your soul! And LMFAO @ “the fucking mosquitoes” in the middle of your eloquent description of your surroundings lmao I lost it!!

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    1. Girl, I’ve been feeling like Neil DeGrasse Tyson over here studying my clouds every morning. I’m trying to spread nature love, but I don’t want anyone upset with me that they weren’t warned about the mosquitoes, haha. Gotta keep it real ’round these parts! xoxo

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