The Nature of Winter
When I was fifteen we moved into the country for the first time. We found a one hundred year old two story farmhouse with some victorian touches sitting on ten acres of mostly untamed woods. We named the place Wildwoods. It was a new era for our family and even as a teen I was excited to soak in country life. A big garden, chickens, my little brothers running in the woods, my sister and I gathering all the mulberries we could pick. Into the woods I went with my trusty Saxon math book, a notebook full of story ideas, whatever classic I was currently deep into, and a blanket to lay on under a tree in a secluded and quiet corner. I wish I had known about nature journalling then because it would have added a great touch to days like that. But instead I was a reader, a writer of many unfinished novels, and a very average mathematician.
Winter came to Wildwoods. My little brothers played in the snowy woods, my sweet mother hummed while she cooked and cleaned up melted snowy puddles and piles of discarded outerwear, my hardworking father shook his head and then gave an optimistic shrug as he checked out the heating bill for that big old house, my sister and I cozied up in the freezing attic with books, games, hot cocoa, and lots of blankets.
I have thought about that chapter of my life a lot lately. Our little family is experiencing a new era too. We just found and moved into our first country home. Our boys are running the woods, we picked apples off our own tree and are excited to see what else is growing here in the spring, we are dreaming of chickens and gardens, and Felicity has already been seen on a blanket out under a tree with a sketchbook.
But now it is winter. So we are caught up with the cozying, the cookery, and the puddle cleaning. We are finding the balance of life and learning in a new spot.
It has been on my heart to find a more natural rhythm with our Nature study and journalling. When I sat down and planned for the year I saw us collecting and then journalling our finds on a weekly basis. But it didn’t always work out that way.
It seems like we did a fair bit of adventuring and collecting during summer and autumn. But we didn’t always take as much time time sitting indoors to journal it all. And now winter is here. We live in Nebraska and the walks and finds are harder to make during inclement and freezing weather. Nature is mostly resting in our part of the country.
So with the seasons change I have been brainstorming ideas to incorporate nature into our days. So here are a few ideas if you too are somewhere where hikes and finds are a little scarcer this time of year or maybe you are simply in an era where something else in life makes it harder to get out as much:
Journal finds from past adventures, trips, walks, seasons – We will spend the next
couple months catching up and filling in where time didn’t allow for a full study and
journal entry of specimens we found in the fall.
Journal from a story – Many of the books we read aloud include references to nature so I
hope to be a little more aware of those and quick to jump into looking them up, giving the
kids a pictorial reference and a name to go on, and we can add to our learning that way.
These may be seasonal stories or found within our literature choices this winter.
Journal from a great reference book – We love our Nature Anatomy book and it includes
sections that are relevant to cold weather topics. Even if we can’t always see the real life
articles because they are hibernating out of view, are not common in our region, or are
too rare or out of reach for us we can still learn about what nature is doing this time of
Journal simple interactions with nature in the Winter – We view and experience nature
during everyday life. We see wildlife, scenery, weather, stars, cloud patterns, sunsets out
our windows. We pass interesting sights and creatures as we drive. We play in the snow,
splash in the rain, slide on the ice while we play outside. These can all go in our journal.
The key is not to get locked into thinking we have to study and journal nature in the same particular way all the time. Because Nature itself is diverse, our lives have varied flow patterns, seasons change. So we have to be flexible. We have to merely commit to look for nature in everything we do. Then we will see more than we realized was ever there. Because Nature is all around us. We have to look. We have to find our spot, spread our blanket, and soak it up. Wherever we are. Sometimes doing math under the trees. Sometimes inside where it is warm.