There are numerous physical and mental benefits of exploring and connecting with nature. Often though, we are so eager to get on the trail and reach a destination, that we miss the details along the path – and the details can often make the journey more meaningful.
One way to help slow your pace and deepen your connection with nature is to start a journal. Nature journaling requires you to take pause, observe the wildlife, plants, or scenery around you, and record what you see through a combination of notes and sketches.
Journaling or sketching may intimidate you, but it shouldn’t. You get to make the rules, so you can, and should, make this a fun and relaxing activity. Your only goal is to build an understanding of the plants and animals in your surroundings by recording what you see. Start small, practice somewhere familiar, like your yard, and study a plant or leaf you can identify.
Drawings do not have to be perfect and you don’t have to draw the entire object. Make broad gestures using a pencil to capture the object’s basic shape and build details from there. Add features that make subjects unique, like feather patterns on a wing, veining on a leaf, or number of petals on a flower. Include basic field notes, such as the date, location, weather, the type of habitat where the subject was found, relative size, and other observations or impressions. Once you are comfortable with the process, you can visit new sites and begin to study mobile subjects, like insects and animals, which can be more challenging.
Whatever your method, be it creating detailed drawings, quick sketches, or taking notes, just remember it’s a learning process. Over time, your observational and artistic skills will improve, and you will become better and more comfortable at documenting your findings. Most importantly, you will slowly increase your understanding of local biodiversity by connecting with natural world in a new and interesting way.
Want to learn more? The Lake Placid Land Conservancy is planning nature journaling outings this summer. Click here to join their mailing list to stay informed of these and other events.
The Lake Placid Land Conservancy provides this Conservation Minute.