Try Your Hand at Nature Journaling
Have you always wanted to try nature journaling? With people turning more and more to nature for solace and respite during these challenging times, this might be the perfect time to grab a pencil and notebook and start a nature journal.
The great thing about nature journaling is you can do it indoors or outdoors. Plus, it's easy and inexpensive and, because you probably have all the necessary tools on hand, you don’t need to go out to buy anything. It's also an opportunity to be creative, reduce stress, and learn more about the living things around you.
The Sierra Club describes a nature journal as “a place to grow your thoughts, feelings, ideas, activities, observations, and relationship with the natural world." As this suggests, there is no right or wrong way to keep a nature journal. Your nature journal can be anything you'd like it to be. All you need is a writing device and a medium to store your thoughts--a notebook, a piece of paper, even your phone. There's no time requirement either— spend as much time or as little on journaling.
Here are a few ways to incorporate nature journaling into your life:
- On your next visit to a park or trail, focus on a particular plant or animal. Try drawing it at differing lengths of time. You can try drawing it in five seconds, then thirty, and then a minute. This is an especially good practice because sometimes you only have a few seconds before an animal scurries away. It also relieves some of the need for your drawing to be ‘perfect’ or too detailed.
- Do you have pets or plants inside your home? Try to draw particular features of them. For example, instead of trying to draw all of a dog, just try to draw its ear or nose. If you have a plant, draw one leaf at a time.
- If going outside is not an option for you, you can nature journal by opening up or sitting by a window. Set a timer to write or sketch what you see, hear, smell, or possibly feel on the other side of the window. Perhaps you are drawn to the sound of birds chirping or the walkers strolling by. After the time is up, set a timer for the same amount of time to write about how you feel. Perhaps the birds bring you peace or you are annoyed at the loud talking of the walkers. It's also okay not to feel anything at all. If that's the case, record your free associations instead.
- Did you see something on your walk that particularly interested you? Take notes on your observations. Take a picture of it or challenge yourself by try drawing it. When you get home, use the internet or field guides to figure out what you saw. You can also do this indoors by researching something that interests you. If you can’t go to a park you want to visit, use the internet to look at pictures and information to record in your nature journal.
Parks & Trails New York encourages you to share some of your nature journaling entries on our social media platforms. Use #ParksPledge when you do to encourage everyone to be safe outdoors. Nature journaling is something you can do alone outdoors while maintaining a safe distance from others.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. There are many online resources you can use. You can take inspiration from famous New York nature journalers, such as Susan Fenimore Cooper and John Burroughs,.
Parks & Trails New York Program Associate Hailey Hamias shares some excerpts from her collection of nature journal entries below.
Different fruits in the fridge from different angles; research about strawberries and clementines on back of page.
Observations on her houseplant with notes and drawings.