Sunday, August 14, 2022
Sunday, July 17, 2022
|Click on image to view larger.|
More on oaks: There is much more to learn about oaks. For an overview on the many values of oaks (for nature and ourselves), I suggest you start by watching a presentation by Dr. Doug Tallamy on his book “The Nature of Oaks” on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdiUgB_3A9w
Monday, July 4, 2022
Summertime in Southwest Florida has a rhythm of its own. It’s a pattern of heat and moisture and rain and cooling. It’s a time of luxuriant growth for the plants adapted to it. It’s also a time when I notice young lizards and birds and bunnies out and about, learning the ways of the world.
|So much nature can be seen in suburban spaces.|
The flowers of spring are turning into fruits now – nearby I see Simpson stopper ripening, seagrape (still green), cocoplum and more. June flowers are blooming of course: a casual suburban observer might see common natives like Spanish needles, beach sunflower, and duck potato easily. These are just a few volunteers in the space I move within every day, the ones I happen to stop and notice. I also see the birds and their nests, an occasional small black snake, and young Eastern cottontails (one every day!), and other signs of procreation and growth.
No matter what's going on in the human world, the natural world keeps marking time, finding its own rhythms, confirming new life. These are the drumbeats that feed my soul and the music that helps me make sense of life.
|Munching on a bit of grass.|
Mechanical pencil .7mm
Micron Pigma 01, black
Aquabee Super Deluxe Mixed Media sketchbook
Daniel Smith watercolors, Botanical Floral half-pan set
Niji waterbush, round M
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Just walking, I happened to veer to the small lake nearby and discovered a green heron intently gazing at the water’s surface. The heron perched on a concrete culvert in the bright sun on the edge of the lake, blue sky above, green water below. Rocking slightly in the breeze on bent, sturdy legs and anchored by long toes, waiting …waiting for a ripple in the water, a movement that might mean dinner.
|Click on image to view larger.|
A fascinating item – green herons sometimes use tools to catch food, one of a few species that do this. They drop twigs, insects or other tidbits onto the water surface to entice fish to surface and feed within their reach. Debate may continue over definitions of tools and tool use, but many agree that this type of behavior indicates an increased intelligence.
Want to read more about green herons?
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission fact
Aquabee sketchbook, 6x9”
.7 mm mechanical pencil
Micron Pigma Pen, black 01
Kimberly watercolor pencils
Niji waterbrush, Medium
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Recently I came across an article about the “I Am From” poem and the project that flowed from it. The poems moved me deeply as I read through the unique and diverse experiences reflected in the poems people submitted. Some of them, very powerful and moving. The original poem and catalyst for this project was written by George Ella Lyons. People are welcome to submit poems to the project’s Facebook page and website, and have even created videos for YouTube. They do this individually or as a group. There is a wonderful video of a collaborative fabric art project that not only celebrates each unique person, but creates a strong sense of place as a whole.
A nature perspective
Then I wondered if condensing my focus to nature would also work and tried it out – you can read that result below. This process inspired me to add the words and resulting imagery to my nature journal. I loved the renewed connection to the nature of my childhood and beyond, and drew with abandon, not worrying about tidy lines or splashing color around!
This was such a memorable experience! I suggest you try it in your own nature journal. You can see that some of my sketches are uncomplicated while some have a bit more attention. Some reflect that inner child. Don’t worry about your skill level – just the basics, or even descriptive color swathes work. Both Clare Walker Leslie and Mimi Robinson have used color shapes alone to beautifully describe environments and seasons. Try it and see. There are also other ways to add visual imagery: photos, collage, prints, or ephemera such as pressed leaves or flowers, maps, tickets, fabric, and much more.
It is the deep connection to place that matters, and the bits and pieces that echo place besides the flora, fauna, and geology: the colors, smells, tastes, textures, and emotions. These have created how we view and interact with nature today. It is a good thing to recognize the role they’ve played – and it is a good thing to expand our views when we experience another’s memories.
|Click to view larger.|
If you aren’t sure where to start, I offer you an exercise developed just for nature. The 2-page PDF can be downloaded HERE. One side has suggestions and prompts, the other has my nature poem plus links to the I Am From project website and Facebook page, plus YouTube videos.
Here is my “I Am From” poem.
I am from
knee-deep snowdrifts, frozen lashes, the searing breath of winter.
Summertime poison ivy rash and itchy mosquito bumps
chasing butterflies and garter snakes
magical fireflies and a whippoorwill lullaby.
I am from
the indigo blue comfort after a midwestern sunset
the musty taste of black walnuts and joyful sweetness of tiny wild blackberries
the bright flash of cardinal and a hummingbird’s glittering eye.
Fluttering spring beauties with tiaras of columbines
and the thrum of bees in the clover.
I am from
The mighty Mississippi,
a languid longing below
the stink of fish and duckweed
and the thrill of snapping turtles.
River bottom land, and banks and bluffs of stacked limestone.
I am from
sturdy oaks and maples,
deer trails and owl pellets
under improbably green new leaves, so delicate, glowing.
Standing in prairie grasses filled with tiny treasures
and the wind in my hair.
Aquabee Super Deluxe 6x9” mixed media sketchbook (double spread)
Daniel Smith watercolors
Micron Pigma 01 black artist pen
Sakura Gelly Roll white gel pen 10
On the web:
I Am From Project website: https://iamfromproject.com/
I Am From Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iamfromproject/
Additional YouTube videos:
I Am From | Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by Juan Delgado, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFtXf1bAC-E
I Am From...A Poem by Aaric Pelc, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVryvxLTIyU
And a collective project by participants of the 2020 Whole Child, Whole Day Social Emotional Learning Symposium: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRM0-fdEJX4
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
I think we’ve all known special places that have deep meaning for us personally.
It feels like a time to let life unwind, and a place to rest and heal.
A sacred place.
Paper - unknown mass-produced watercolor paper pad, about 8x10"
Watercolor paint, probably Grumbacher and/or Winsor & Newton
(the colors still surprisingly bright after almost 40 years)
# 2 Pencil
Friday, November 26, 2021
“The smallest flower is a thought,
a life answering to
some feature of the Great Whole...”
~ Honore de Balzac
There is a wildflower I’m especially fond of that comes up along the edges and unlikely places in my yard, and starts blooming in late summer. It always makes me happy to see the tiny toothed leaves emerge from the ground, because I know that they’ve reseeded and will do just fine with absolutely no help from me. It’s still blooming in late November but going to seed. The common name is Mistflower; these have blooms of lavender and soft violet, and from a distance the many stamens and coloring sometimes gives the appearance of distant mist drifting over the ground.
I’m often fascinated by the self-similarity of its leaves. Each tiny leaf a miniature of the largest. You could argue that many plants are like this (and some are), but it’s the way these branch and divide and arrange its heart-shaped leaves that captivates me. I’m not good at fractal geometry, but I enjoy how Mistflower shows up in the world. If you don’t know fractals, here is a partial definition from the FractalFoundation,org: “Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales.”
|The tiny leaves are miniatures of the largest leaves.|
Patterns appear everywhere in nature – some seem random, and some quite precise. Some patterns depend on the macro or the micro view. When I think of self-similar things, I’m reminded of mineral structures. I know, an unlikely sideways jaunt from botany to geology – but this is one of the things I love about nature journaling. I never know where it might take me.
know me well, know that I also love rocks.
Geology is a huge part of the why of things, but that’s a subject for
another time. One of the more interesting
things I’ve learned is that the atomic structure of a mineral is reflected in
the external crystal structure. In other
words, we can look at pure salt crystals in our hand and predict that we’ll see
similar crystal shapes under the microscope.
This is because they fracture along specific structural lines. Other minerals and impurities can change
this, but generally the microscopic pattern determines the real-world
I don’t know enough to say that this is what happens in the plant world, just saying that the natural world is an amazing place and full of unexpected patterns and connections. We just have to change our viewpoint. Do you find yourself fascinated by patterns as well? What connections do you make?
|My nature journal page.|
- Micron Pigma 01 pen
- Kimberly watercolor pencils
- Aquabee Super Deluxe drawing paper 93 lb.
From Florida Wildflower: https://flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-conoclinium-coelestinum/
Dip into fractals
Fractals in nature from Dave’s Garden: https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1966
Fractals in everything: https://news.globallandscapesforum.org/43195/fractals-nature-almost-all-things/
Cleavage and fracture properties explained in easy-to-understand language on page 4:
An open textbook, in-depth on crystal morphology: https://opengeology.org/Mineralogy/10-crystal-morphology-and-symmetry/