Monday, January 10, 2011

Nature Journaling, An Invitation

One day during my vacation, I began to feel anxious--there was a tightness in my chest, a hollowness in my stomach and a buzzing sensation under my skin.  Maybe it was the after Christmas let-down, or too many days without a regular pattern, or the prospect of returning to regular life in a few days; whatever it was the feeling intensified throughout the day and by the next morning, to steal a metaphor from Terry Tempest Williams, my blood had turned to ants.

I tried to remind myself to breathe deeply.  I tried working on projects.  I tried to quell the uneasiness in my stomach with leftover Christmas cookies.  As the day went by and relaxation did not come, I remembered my own advice from Nature Journaling as Meditation.  I encouraged, coaxed and pried the boys into their winter gear and headed outside.  I had initially planned on walking our trail to the river, but they quickly found diversion playing in the snowbanks left behind from a half-assed deck shoveling job, so I settled on the front step and opened my senses.

I began writing down the sounds, and sights and smells, and then began sketching the oak tree and the woods across the yard.  I switched to colored pencils and tried to figure out how to show the darkness of the woods in the background compared to the black-barked poplar on the edge of the lawn.  Time slipped away, and the ants marched away.

After an hour, the words I had written had become obscured by a not-very-good picture of the woods. The seat of my pants had frozen to the front step and I'd built up a sizable pile of pencil shavings.  And I felt good.  Relaxed, calm, at ease.

A few commenters suggested that I post on my nature journals now and then and I've been thinking about how to do it so that it's not another "look what I did" kind of post.  Rather, I'd like to make it into an opportunity, an invitation for you to join me and start a nature journal of your own.  I'll post here about a nature journal entry every once in a while and include with it an invitation for you to explore in your own journal.  

For this first entry, coax the kids into their snowsuits, bundle the baby into his stroller, and sit outside on your front (or back) step and open your sense.  List what you see, hear, feel, smell.  Write a few sentences, a poem or a page about what it makes you or think about.  Sketch the view from your seat.

If you post about your experience on your blog, leave a comment with a link here.  I'd love to see and/or hear about how your first journaling session goes for you.

Please see Nature Journaling as Meditation for more about how to start a nature journal.

1 comment:

  1. What a great metaphor from Terry Tempest Williams. It's how I felt last night in bed when I realized I shouldn't drink caffeine anymore.

    I'll take you up on your suggestion for the journal, but no promises about sharing. For some reason I don't take my own (lack of) drawing ability very seriously. But I will try!


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