Nature and Simple Things

by Deborah Taylor-Hough

Have you noticed that simple things are often the most satisfying?

With the change of weather and the advent of sunshine here in the Pacific Northwest, we've been going to a local nature trail regularly. Recently we brought our Nature Journals (blank artist sketchbooks) and sat for hours drawing the animals and birds taking up residence around the beaver pond. My children were thrilled to see a turtle sunning itself on a log. There were a great many Rough-skinned Newts foraging on the bottom of the pond directly beneath us as we stood on one of the observation platforms. The pair of Canada geese that call the pond "home" are becoming old, familiar friends. My children have even named them: Arctic and Shadow. The red-winged blackbirds send out such a wild sound as they call to each other across the pond. We never did see any females. Perhaps they're nesting in the rushes? We're looking forward to seeing ducklings and goslings paddling around the pond before too long.

Yes, it's often the simple things that bring the bright splashes of joy to our lives.

I was first introduced to the idea of Nature Notebooks by reading the work of Charlotte Mason, an educator in England from the last century. Many of her ideas and methods are currently experiencing a revival, especially among American home educators.

For people interested in trying out the Nature Notebook or Nature Journal idea (it's a great activity for both children and adults), I highly recommend the book "Nature Journaling: Learning to Observe and Connect with the World Around You" by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth. The book is written and illustrated by college-level science educators who use Nature Journals as their primary method of teaching people to learn about nature firsthand. A beautiful, inspiring book! After purchasing "Nature Journaling," the book totally changed the way our family approaches our Nature Journals -- the book provided us with so many more ideas and creative uses for the notebooks. The first day we read "Nature Journaling," my 12-year-old daughter and I spent two hours at the local pond. My husband has even decided to start keeping a Nature Journal of his own after seeing the newly inspired work in my Nature Notebook.

View the book, "Nature Journaling"

Consider adding a bit of nature journaling to your family's summertime activities. You may even find yourself starting a new, rewarding and educational life-time hobby.

Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To subscribe, visit Debi online at:

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