Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nature Journaling: A Travel Journal

One of the things I was determined to do on my Ireland trip was to keep a journal every day.

Often, when I travel, I will start out journaling with enthusiasm, only to taper off after two or three days, and, feeling I need to fill in all the intervening days before I can add anything new, I fall hopelessly behind and never pick it up again. And then when I go back in future years to revisit a past trip, I'm disappointed by the big gaping holes in my journals. So this time, I decided I must keep up with it every day.

I helped myself out by sketching in a little map of the first day's travels ahead of time.

I had a small, but still 80-page journal to fill, so once I arrived, I sketched, wrote and added ephemera like train ticket stubs, boarding passes and brochures, trying to fill the whole book.

(This three-faced stone head I sketched from a postcard I bought for my dad at the National Archaeology Museum).

This was a travel/nature journal, and I gave special attention to trees (for C's benefit) and birds and wildflowers.

While traveling by train and bus from Dublin to Dingle, I kept a running commentary on what I saw/heard as we went along (and wrote a limerick for my travel-mate while passing through Limerick).

My journaling style is very much running narrative: "We did this and then we did that and saw this and I thought that..." Not terribly literary or lyrical, but a place to store memories, perhaps for later clean-up into something a bit fancier.

Originally, I had planned on taking along a mini watercolor kit, but at the last minute I decided to take my colored pencils along instead.

I thought waiting for watercolors to dry would be a problem.

Also, I never did learn how to watercolor paint. (What looks like a dirty smudge on this picture, above the seals, is really a glued-in bit of Blasket Island sheep wool).

Whenever I had a five-minute breather, and just needed a break from all the togetherness that an intimate traveling group plus writing residency engenders, I would hide out in a corner of my guesthouse room and work on my Dingle Birds--a page of all of the new avian species I got to know there.

I also collected new wildflower species, both in pressed versions and in sketches (this one is heather--which I was ridiculously excited to see in real life, and sprigs of which I kept pinching off whenever I got the opportunity).

And my journal came with on our crazy climb up to Eask Tower, and, despite the tight time constraints, I basked a moment on the cliff's edge and sketched the tower. It's amazing how drawing (no matter how poorly) helps you to really see so much better. I had not noticed that the tower tapered toward the bottom as well as the top, until I drew it incorretly, with a straight side.

In the end, I didn't quite make it to page 80. But, after I added a few poems our director shared with us, and once I tape in a few more brochures, I should have only about six or eight blank pages. I think this may be my favorite souvenir of the trip (even more than the two sweaters I accidentally bought myself...).

Previous Nature Journaling posts:  
See also Nature Journaling as Meditation for more on starting a nature journal.

1 comment:

  1. I will not ask how one accidentally buys a sweater...ahem. :) But your drawings are lovely. What a wonderful souvenir--I can just picture one of your grandchildren stumbling onto it some day and being fascinated.


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