Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nature Journaling

I love this book.  
It is a beautiful, thought-provoking, insightful read.
It almost should be its own post, because I will probably read it again and again.  

But for today, I'll quote just a few short passages: 

"This is perhaps the greatest legacy we can bestow on our children: the capacity to be enchanted by the quiet gifts of everyday life."

And this...

"Modern life calls us away from nature's rhythms, away from the kind of observation and interaction with the natural world that can quiet a troubled mind, restore a sense of well-being, and renew our connections with all life.  We spend our days inside stead, yoked to some other rhythm, bathed in artificial light, breathing recycled air, surrounded by man-made materials---concrete, glass, and plastic....As the nature writer Robert Michael Pyle has observed, many children today suffer from what he calls 'the extinction of experience.' Unlike children of earlier generations, they simply do not have the kind of direct, frequent, contact with the earth and its creatures that result in a passionate, lasting relationship with the natural world.  Our children, he points out, may have 'politically correct' responses to whales, global warming, pollution, and rain forests; they are well versed in the major environmental issues---but far less grounded in their own visceral, firsthand experiences.  Their actual physical contact and intimacy with nature is fading away.  It is not enough, then, to teach our children about nature; we must allow our children to grow up in nature."

Nature study is all about noticing the natural world; the intricate detail, the beauty that washes over us each day, the kinds of things we often take for granted.  
Do you ever wonder about losing your vision, and that glorious moment when sight was restored?  
I do.  
How magical watching a rainstorm would be, or waiting for that blue on the horizon to be washed in sunlight, or taking note of how incredible a small insect is?
Ever since these folks were small, we have spent hours and hours outdoors, one thing that makes me truly happy.  
But since we've started nature journaling, I'm hoping it will be another level of noticing detail.

Last time, we were up the canyon and sketched fall leaves.  
Today, these were the treasures we collected around our neighborhood block: miscellaneous rocks, petunias, hazelnuts (both in and out of their sheath), lobelia, snapdragons, a chestnut and a sunflower (and we stopped to admire the seeds in the head of an especially large sunflower). 
Our table, a messy array of colored pencils, crayons, and freshly cut apples.  
Listening to Pachelbel's Canon.
Benji, beginning
Isaiah, at the start
My final sketches in my book
The petunia Isaiah sketched
His drawing of it (I love how he tried to draw the veins of dark purple)
Our sunflower, and Mia's rendition of it below
Mia's snapdragon
A fuzzy little friend that fell out of a petunia we picked outside
Crawling up Isaiah's hand as he tried to sketch him
His drawing of our little friend
Benji's sketches of a tree seedling
In the same book, Katrina Kenison talks about being outside with her two boys one day as they played in a nearby stream.  After talking about their adventure, she says this:
"The world, seen through the eyes of a child, is a delicious, irresistible place.  And, for the moment, anyway, I am the lucky adult companion of two little boys, my own sense of wonder renewed each time we step out the door and look around us."
I feel the same way about my three little companions.

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