It’s Nature Journaling Week! I’ve taken on the challenge of writing and illustrating a page in my nature journal every day from the 1st – 7th June. I always miss the international weeks and days but luckily I caught this one the night before it began. I’ve kept a nature journal for about nine months now, but recently it’s become more difficult to make time for it with my masters and other work commitments. So, Nature Journaling Week couldn’t have come at a better time for me.
As well as daily prompts, the week includes workshops and virtual events with nature journaling teacher and author John Muir Laws and author and artist Tim Pond. There is a huge amount of information on the website, so if you have a flair for journaling or even just a curious interest then get involved!
For day one I visited my local forest, which has always been a great place to relax and reflect. As well as birds and butterflies, there are furrier creatures to be spotted too. I’ve glimpsed a roe deer dashing through the gorse on previous visits, but I had a particularly special sighting yesterday.
What a brilliant morning. Before we’d even entered the forest I saw a juvenile robin, house martins sweeping up under rooftops to reach their nests and a female blackbird with a mouthful of food. When we left the road behind, the natural soundscape took over: the whispering “whoo whoo” of wind beneath a crow’s beating wings, the scuds and crunches of pinecones underfoot and a distant chiffchaff singing its name.
The branches of young conifers were like apple green hairbrushes, still soft with youth, while the thick knots of spiderwebs twisted around twig tips resembled silver microphones. Elsewhere, the fine gossamer hung between papery trunks shone golden in the spots of light seeping through the canopy. A dunnock was singing – its pink mouth open wide. Fluttering leaf-like was a speckled wood butterfly, basking on the dry earth with lazy blinks of its wings.
We looped back towards home, relaxed and at peace after a little forest therapy. Just as I glimpsed the first row of houses, a branch rustled overhead and revealed the tiny body of a red squirrel! It stared at me for a moment before taking off over the treetops, lost in greenness and silence.
It was so lovely to take time out to concentrate on creative writing and art. It’s easy to get distracted with pressing deadlines, but it’s also important to break that routine and reset yourself. I returned from my walk more relaxed, (thrilled after the squirrel sighting!) and ready to begin the day. I hope Nature Journaling Week will inspire more people to not only visit wild places (ensuring appropriate social distancing of course) but also to record their interactions in a journal to reflect on them for years to come.