Sunday, November 1, 2020

What Does Wind Do? Nature Journaling #11

I skipped a week of nature journaling. Yes, I admit it. The alarms went off and I ignored them. That happens. It’s better to admit it and move on. The winds blowing through today are telling that story- relentlessly they push me to change.

I’ve been walking a lot, I just haven’t written. We can get that way: stuck. The winds remind me that there are other times when we must go- when forces outside of us press in with such insistence, they cannot be dismissed.

Weather can be a great focus for nature journaling. It’s not a living thing itself, but it affects everything that is. And in many situations, we give it life-like qualities as we describe it. Weather adds up to climate which develops, maintains, and changes the habitats and ecosystems we see around us. We should be recording the weather as our metadata each time we journal for those very reasons.

Sitting with the weather and journaling about it specifically can lead to all sorts of inquiries and discoveries. Today, I was able to see the snowflakes forecast as they danced about with both dry leaves and the occasional bird. The birds didn’t come into my awareness for a while- I had expected most animal life to be laying low but chickadees and juncos are well adapted to rough conditions and I was able to catch close (but too close to draw) glimpses as they searched for food. In one cottonwood, I saw the drey (nest) of a grey squirrel high above me and wondered if it was tucked inside today.

Squirrel drey in center of the image

My question was: What Does Wind Do?

In the 30 minutes I took, I was able to see, hear, hypothesize, and read about a number of things it does. It builds by spreading seeds. It cleans by shaking out dead branches and eroding. It destroys by feeding fires. It changes daily weather conditions by pushing clouds in and out. It annoys by drying skin (personal opinion add-in).

Still-green willows versus other deciduous species

When trees lose their leaves, they become less affected by high winds. In early November in Wisconsin, that’s demonstrable as different species have different drop dates and the conifers rely on other adaptations to stay green and growing year-round. Those that are still green today are swaying wildly while the skeletal ones are merely quivering and rattling.

This weather is a great reminder that anything alive can adapt to its surroundings in some fashion. Humans, squirrels, juncos, junipers, and maples all have physical characteristics that can respond to conditions. That’s key: every single living thing has adaptations. Moreover, most, if not all, can also decide to do things in response to their surroundings.

What we are and what we do- those are the adaptations that help us survive and possibly prosper.

The winds continue to blow. Time continues to tick. It’s a new month and it’s my wish that every single one of us has the time and means to both see and use the amazing adaptations we possess. Hopefully, to help us all prosper.

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