What would happen if the first thing people did every day was contemplate nature? Well I know there are certain things that might need to be done first, like visiting the bathroom, getting dressed, having a caffeine hit, etc. (What’s your morning ritual?). But what I’m getting at is, once you’ve done the essential warm-ups (or perhaps while you’re doing those warm-ups…) do you immerse yourself in social media, news, morning television, breakfast radio… Or maybe you’re too busy wrangling children or checking work emails (or both simultaneously)?

What if, instead of these things, you spent 15 minutes resetting your daily compass by contemplating a plant, a bird, an insect, even a rock. Some facet of nature. I wonder what that might do to your sense of well being, and to your outlook for the rest of the day?

Over the next seven days I will try to do this each morning, for a plant a day. These are the rules:

  1. Make at least 3 observations about the plant (appearance, texture, scent, size, etc).
  2. Ask at least 1 question about the plant.
  3. Write these things down, with the date, and the location of the plant.
  4. Include drawings if you like.
  5. Photos are not allowed.
  6. Try to find out what it is.

Consider it a nature journaling challenge. You can join me, if you like. And it doesn’t have to be a plant a day. It could be a bird a day, a bug a day, or a different plant or animal each day. Perhaps you could start by doing this once a week, or plan to do a longer challenge on your next holiday?

The idea is to focus on nature, to observe it closely, and not to try to write a clever essay or create an amazing work of art. Keep it simple, and keep it short. Even if only brief, this time spent with nature – if it is done well – means that you will forget yourself and the world for a short while. To me, this is the essence of nature journaling. If you are thinking about what other people will think of your writing or your drawing, that’s taking you away from nature. The process should be a conversation between you and whatever you’re observing. Don’t allow any interruptions 😊.

So here is my first plant. This morning I was thrilled to meet the Oliver’s sassafras, Cinnamomum oliveri. A most handsome tree, which was just coming into flower, and a native cousin of the introduced and infamous Camphor Laurel Cinnamomum camphora.

I’ll be posting my plants on the Nature Journaling Australia facebook group each day, and posting a summary of the week here.

If you’re going to take up your own challenge, feel free to share your discoveries with the Nature Journaling Australia facebook group, or you can happily savor the quiet joys of nature journaling all by yourself 😊.