Like you, I truly love nature: I enjoy its company, I care for it, and I’ll never stop learning about it. I’ve recently discovered a practice (OK, an obsession) that allows me to connect with nature more deeply. I hope to inspire others to give it a try!
Nature journaling is a way to record your personal connection to nature. It includes observing, sketching, wondering, and writing. There are no rules, but there are cues and tips. In fact, there’s a veritable world of online resources. Rather than get into the details of how to do it, I’d like to share with you why I do it.
The gloomy sky of a recent grey winter morning did not beckon me outside at all. But, inspired by my nature journal practice, I grabbed my handy kit of sketchbook, fineline markers, and tiny watercolour palette and headed out the door.
What could have been a fairly dull 45-minute walk down our same old rural road, turned into a 1.5-hour long odyssey of discovery. A flock of birds in the redcedars caught my eye. Purple or house finches? Instead of looking up their differences and promptly forgetting them for the 20th time, I quickly sketched the distinguishing features that stood out to me. I’m confident I know these guys by sight now. In fact, nature journaling has been a fun way to prepare for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.
On my walk I heard the tinkling calls of a flock of American Tree Sparrows, felt the refreshing chill of a still morning, spotted fresh otter tracks, admired the lacy twigs of an ironwood, and discovered an incredible creature hanging upside down from the water’s surface in the creek. It all went into my nature journal. I didn’t create a beautiful work of art, but I did create a more richly lived experience.
I’ve been so lucky to work for nature in Ontario for over 20 years. I’ve seen a huge sample of its ecosystems from Lake Superior to James Bay to the Ottawa River to Lake Erie. Throughout my nature experiences I’ve always felt an urge to capture the moment in some way. Nature journaling allows me to be in the moment when I’m in nature, and to create a personal record of it in a gratifying way.
When I flip through my nature journals from 2021 I’m transported back into those moments. I remember details of experiences I would have otherwise forgotten and I see how much I have learned about things I thought I already knew.
There are so many different ways to acknowledge your appreciation for nature. I encourage you to try nature journaling as another form of devotion.
Corina Brdar has been an ecologist for both Parks Canada and Ontario Parks. She is interested in using her experience to help others discover the joy of nature journaling. To learn more visit: livingbeingmindfulness.weebly.com.