Starting the year

Image by Idea Go from

It is a common practice for people to start the new year with resolutions to do this or to do that. If you are among the people who follow this practice I would like to challenge you to add “get out doors and connect with people in the natural areas near me”  to you list of resolutions.

How can I do that? I don’t know anything about nature.

Well, the  joy of it is, you don’t need to know anything about nature to connect with it. All you need is yourself and any senses you can bring along with you. You don’t even need all your senses to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Poor eyesight? Open your ears. Employ your nose. Use your sense of touch.

Hearing not so good? Use your eyes. Look for the patterns and textures in things. Take note of the colors and the tone of the light.

You get my point.

You don’t need a lot of equipment. You don’t need a lot of knowledge. All you need is your self and your willingness to be present and engage with the place that you are in.

Even the most urban of areas have some natural features even if it is only the local pigeons, sparrows, and starlings or the grass that is struggling to make through the cracks in the asphalt. Take time to watch that. Get to know your local pigeons. Follow their movements, and watch their behavior. You can learn a lot about what’s going on by watching them. Do they all take to the air? Look around for the dog or the cat that might be stalking them. Do they all take flight for cover? Look up. There may be a falcon on the prowl. Peregrine falcons think the high ledges of our urban sky scrapers are good perches and nesting sites.

Keep a record. Find something to keep a journal record in. An inexpensive spiral notebook and a pencil is all you need. Jot down what you see. Note what you hear. Make a quick sketch. Don’t worry that it isn’t fine art. Some of my journal sketches are nothing more than stick figures to document something I saw, like the tiny little purple flower that I saw growing in solitude out of a crack in the concrete half way up a stone wall.

What ever else you do. Just Start!

Oh! and don’t forget to enjoy the process.

Happy New Year.

2 comments to Starting the year

  • Greetings from the Dallas, Texas area & Happy New Year! I am a middle school biology teacher and photographer and I stumbled upon your website tonight from the Nature Blog Network where I also have a blog ( I have only had time to glance through your blog, but I really connect with what you’re saying. I teach in a suburban prep school and my students get FAR too little interaction with nature. Even though we have a wilderness/camping program that has them camping out each year from 5th – 9th grades, it still is not nearly enough.

    One way I try to share my connection with nature is through my nature photography. I use it regularly in my classes and work hard to share it with others so they can gain a wider appreciation of the natural world and its wonders. As I wandered your blog, I cam up with the idea that I’d be happy to share some of my images with your blog to help give you a free source of natural images. I’d also be willing to do a guest entry in the future about how my connection to nature through photography.

    and BTW, I grew up in Manhattan and spent a big chunk of my young summer life at nature based camps!

    I’m glad I found your blog! Have a great day !

    • thenatureschool

      John, thanks for your reply to my post. I am also a teacher, I teach HS Integrated Physics and Chemistry in the coastal bend area of TX. I just recently found the Nature Blog Network and joined up. I have been enjoying looking through the different blogs there and will make a point of looking up your blog this afternoon when I get back from school. Photography is a great way to connect with nature and it was, in fact, the gate that led me to this path.

      I am glad that you replied to my post. I am always looking for great images, I get a lot from the web site that you see in the captions of many of the images but it would be great to have access to others as well.

      I grew up just outside of Boston in a small town with lots of woods where I spent much of my time either reading or writing. I also spent a lot of time at Girl Scout camps each summer. My life supports the data that show connection with nature is calming. One of my things is to get people to know that nature isn’t “out there somewhere” which is a paradigm that people develop when their only contact with nature is at a camp that is removed from their home.

      Again, thanks for the offers. I will send you an email and we can talk about it more.

      Happy New Year to you and I hope you have a great first day back at school.

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