Day 3: Learning about natural history
People have been writing about nature for centuries—you will be reading examples of natural history writing throughout this course.
To begin this journey, here is an audio program on nature writing.
Audio: “Nature and the Written Word (BBC Shared Planet)” (27:56)
Supplement this program by reading some natural history, such as some of one of your natural history books, or the Bates or Comstock books. Think of the sorts of things these writers focus on, and the styles they use.
Imagine how you will write your natural history journal.
Today, start reflecting. Don’t just observe, but muse on what you observe. Notice fewer things today than yesterday—linger on something. Coax your mind into a state of curiosity, of the generation of ideas and questions. Balance your direct observational notes today with reflection. Give yourself a time of silence to think, for notions to arise in your consciousness. It will not necessarily happen immediately, and may require some wandering and watching and listening. At the end of this, your first week of experience in nature, you will return prepared to balance presence, observation and thought for the rest of the course.
~Always be prepared for any observation~
The bubbling brook doth leap when I come by,
Because my feet find measure with its call;
The birds know when the friend they love is nigh,
For I am known to them, both great and small.
The flower that on the lonely hillside grows
Expects me there when spring its bloom has given;
And many a tree and bush my wanderings knows,
And e’en the clouds and silent stars of heaven;
For he who with his Maker walks aright,
Shall be their lord as Adam was before;
His ear shall catch each sound with new delight,
Each object wear the dress that then it wore;
And he, as when erect in soul he stood,
Hear from his Father’s lips that all is good.
-Jones Very (1813-1880)