The winter is officially behind us and spring has thrown open its arms leaving us all itching to get outdoors. While we plan our grand adventures, long hikes, camp-outs, or kayak trips, it’s good to remember that we don’t always have to go far to have a great escape. If you have access to nature, a notebook, and something to write with, get outside and be prepared for a different sort of adventure.  

Nature Journaling is a way of seeing the outdoors. When we stop in nature and focus on what is around us, rather than a destination, the world opens up in a whole new way. How many times had we passed that tiny blue flower on the trail to the waterfall? Perhaps a butterfly lands nearby or we hear the rattle of a woodpecker. Settle in. Check out the delicate spiral of a fern unfurling. With our attention focused so intently on nature, our heart rate and blood pressure drops, and we become more relaxed. Maybe we decide to linger and bring out our notebook.

You don’t need to be an artist to nature journal. Nor a writer. Nor a scientist. But we can borrow from these traditions and use them to connect closer with nature. Maybe we measure how long that pinecone is. Or count how many petals that flower cluster has. Maybe we take notes about the weather or how the sunlight slants through the canopy and lands on a rotting log trimmed with fungi. Maybe we doodle the way an acorn sits capless on a leaf. Or sketch arrows to show how the chickadee flies back and forth between trees caching seeds. Use what methods you are comfortable with to capture information about what you see.

Not only will you return with a record of what you noticed on your adventure, but with a page or two of memories to look back on. And each time you go out with your nature journal you’ll be strengthening your ability to see the outdoors in a new way!