Sunday, February 21, 2021

Winter: Nature Journaling Week #20

Yikes. 3 weeks have gone by since I last journaled. Last time, I examined the differences one can see in 24 hours. Now, I can also see what a difference of 3 weeks does in winter.


On January 30, we had 9:53:37 of sunlight. Today, on February 21, we have 10:51:22. That’s almost another whole hour!! And it shows. Birds are starting to sing like it’s spring. It’s still light out as we set the table for dinner. And while there’s still a solid blanket of snow out there, it feels different.

I never journaled about my feelings on winter as I had about fall, so I decided today was the day- before I slip again and find myself in yet another season. I’ve been hiking quite regularly- I just haven’t recorded anything. So today, I have the opportunity to reflect. My entry is light on art and heavy on words.

A Promise.

Yesterday truly felt like a promise. Everything felt like it was alive. Sure, the rocks by the spring-fed stream were cold and in many cases snow-covered. But there were brilliant green watercress floating at the surface. There were robins mobbing us with their chipper calls. There were tracks EVERYWHERE- big and small, reminding us that although we might not see them, there were many life forms around us. 

My face became sun and wind-kissed. That fiery ball warms both organic and inorganic things, stirring us all to move.

Just BE.

I found myself stopping regularly along the trail. Stopping. I noted that in my journal because I find that to be more and more important the older I get. Regardless of the season, we do so much better by stopping. Looking. Listening. Feeling. Smelling. All the senses need an opportunity to feed us their vital information!

Textures, sounds, colors, and movement sink into our awareness the longer we stay open to it. It wasn’t until an hour into the walk that either of us noticed the half-moon high in that brilliant blue sky. We didn’t realize there was a huge squirrel nest in a nearby oak tree until we’d stopped to admire another mass of robins.


Experiencing that trail yesterday was all the richer for the company of a friend. Whether in conversation or quiet, we can connect with “the other”- and that’s vital to our own living. We can start to realize “the other” isn’t so “other”. In mutual participation, we can capitalize on the combination of senses, thoughts, knowledge, and ideas. Sharing experiences binds both the place more closely to each of us and us to each other. Again, I was reminded yesterday that we are truly stronger and richer together amongst both our species and our environments.

My goal is to not let another 3 weeks slip by without journaling. I also wish you all time and opportunities taken to connect with our natural world and one another.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Difference 24 Hours Makes: Nature Journaling Week #19


Everything can change in 24 hours.

In recent days and months, we’ve been repeatedly reminded of that. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not, but change is constant. Today, I wanted to define the differences in weather we’ve experienced locally. 

I’ve done a Venn diagram once before. They are helpful tools to outline the unique characteristics of two things and those that they share in common. Weather can be fairly easy to define. But sitting with the concept, one is nudged to recall that everything is dealing with that weather. How does each living thing do it? How does each type of life react to changing conditions?

I didn’t pose any questions, but I should have. Do animals feel up when they have more serotonin in their systems? How much does sunlight affect them- do they have moods? What do they experience as they wait through a storm?

I confess that I didn’t climb a local hill the other night to observe the Wolf Moon because I was afraid I would disturb some animals that may have hunkered down somewhere to make it through the single-digit dark hours. I stuck to the sidewalks. We can each share the world and give each other some space without losing anything vital.

Sun, sky, snow, & green

I took time to describe what I felt each day. I question what all those creatures feel today versus yesterday. The storm nears the longer I sit here, but I’m safe and warm while those animals and woody plants adjust as they can to the wild fluctuations.

24 hours can change a lot. Perhaps I can use this as a gentle reminder that we humans should be willing and able to adapt as time goes by. We sometimes get used to getting our own way. Perhaps it would be good for us to practice being more in sync with our surroundings and being more accepting of what is and what lives around us.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Vital Basics: Nature Journaling Week #18

Another back-to-back weekly journaling! I’m feeling more together and motivated to open that book. I’m still working inside but hopefully will do an outdoor session soon.

Last week, Juncos and the other creatures at the bird feeder inspired me to think about interactions and connections. One of the things all the living things outside are dealing with right now is snow. It’s a cold habitat out there, but not just cold. There’s water out there. Snow is water in its solid form. But I also have a heated birdbath, so there’s liquid water, too. Icicles have hung on my house eaves. That was natural water that moved from snow to liquid water and back to a solid. A much more substantial solid, but still composed of the same molecules.

I decided to spend some time with water. It’s a unique molecule with both positive and negative regions that allow it to do all the things it does. Ice floats because it has less mass than liquid water, for example. Salts can dissolve in water because the pieces are drawn to the charges of water molecules. Every living thing requires water in some amount and form. As I flip back through my journal, I must understand that.

The creatures here right now, especially mice and voles, can use solid water as a home. A layer of snow insulates the ground from major temperature fluctuations that occur in the air. We’re basically blind to this subnivean zone life unless we catch some tracks as they occasionally come to the surface to raid dropped birdseed.

Water is so important and so complex, many journal entries could be made. I like the water cycle and added it. It’s another reminder of how life changes constantly and how everything is connected. We depend on that change and those connections. If water only fell and didn’t rise as vapor, the skies would eventually become dry. If water didn’t flow underground, we would eventually become submerged. If we lose the ice at our poles, we may lose the thermoclines that power winds that direct our climates. If our water reserves become polluted, the mechanics might still work, but will we be able to drink it? Consuming water is necessary for all life.

Simple things are important. Writing about water reminds me of that. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Winter Guests: Nature Journaling Week #17

 I ended my last essay at the end of 2020 for a call for unity. Then the US Capitol was invaded on January 6. I also went through a mental crisis personally and am on the path to recovery. I think this week's journaling ties in with all that. We all need others. We all need community. 

It’s been over 2 weeks since I journaled last, and I spent time looking at my book this morning. Wow! It really felt good. Things I wrote stood out to me like messages from the seasons to current me and they made me smile. Good memories returned to my present mind and that filled with me good feelings. And I was reminded of things I still want to do, as well. 

Anticipation is an amazingly healing feeling. 

It’s cold and snowy out, and we can also anticipate spring in a few months. Until then, we have a different world out there inhabited by creatures adapted to winter. Dark-eyed Juncos are one such species that live here only during the cold months and I decided to focus on them today.

These birds hang out at feeders and landscaping shrubs so are easy to observe. And, they give off a happy vibe, at least to me. They hop and flit about. They scour the ground for seed and scatter into our arborvitae as the snow lightly falls.

As I’m sitting here, a Cardinal couple joins in the feeder activity. Cardinals are bigger than Juncos, but both have the chisel beaks best suited for cracking seeds. Now, a downy woodpecker is at my feeder, chiseling nuts and mealworms off the block. Its work will help the Juncos score some more food as crumbs fall to the ground.

I read that Juncos hang out with other sparrow species. I saw that as well today as a number of birds hopped on the ground and used the birdbath. Watching this morning, I saw a busy community.

There’s a dance going on out there. I’m reminded again that Life is a dance. Trillions of lives across millions of species all interact at some level- together. Life’s always changing and that should encourage us instead of frightening us.

There can be anticipation. There can be hope. If we’re open to that truth of community.