“It was great to see the owls,” I said.
“Yes. They’re wild things, of course. Killers, savages. They’re wonderful.”
― David Almond, Skellig
Just thought it might be worth sharing Emily’s Nature Book Club: The Big List again. This is a fantastic resource if you are looking for nature themed reads. Some of my personal favourites are on the list. I notice David Almond’s wonderful young adult title; My Name is Mina, is number three on the list. A prequel to Almond’s brilliant first novel Skellig, a book which celebrates flight, birds, evolutionary mystery and possibly angels, Skellig also qualifies as a nature read, it is certainly a magical book, that involves observation and wonder as the children discover the mysterious owl like qualities of the homeless man in Michael’s shed.
My name is Mina, Almond’s prequel, is a celebration of observation and creativity, written in the form of Mina’s journal, this rather glorious little book celebrates the pleasure and value of journaling, creativity and nature, through the personal observations of the brilliant misfit Mina:
“Then what shall I write? I can’t just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I’ll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line? Words should wander and meander. They should fly like owls and flicker like bats and slip like cats. They should murmur and scream and dance and sing.”
It has been a while since I have written a post about the value of journaling, the great companion tool of writers, travelers, artists, thinkers and anyone looking for self improvement. This fantastic little book is a potential source of inspiration for anyone looking to start their own journal. Mina has the observation of an artist and a naturalist, combined with a creative, reflective intelligence. A delightful inspiring little book. It might inspire you to pick up a pen and start writing your own journal.
On the subject of nature journaling you have to check out Paula Peters blog Paperbark Writer, Paula is an ecologist, writer and artist who runs nature journaling workshops, she has generously made available a free introduction to nature journaling booklet on her website. It is a great introduction to the rewarding and addictive past time of nature journaling, I can’t draw to save myself but it doesn’t stop me from having a go and Paula Peters is a great source of inspiration and guidance. As Paula points out, our disconnect from nature is contributing to growing levels of anxiety and depression, nature journaling helps us reconnect. To learn to slow down and be mindful, to appreciate the beauty and complexity around us. The Brisbane botanic gardens is hosting a free half day workshop with Paula on March 21st for National Eucalypt day, I have booked myself a spot and I am really looking forward to the day.
Nature journaling can also play a significant role in citizen science and with rapidly changing environments at the moment it is the observations of everyday citizens that can make invaluable contributions to monitoring and researching our environment. Recording species and numbers, recording weather; rainfall and drought and the small local changes that can be easily missed but yet have considerable importance. Sometimes the seemingly insignificant, sightings of bees or frogs for example can provide invaluable pieces in larger puzzles. Spending time just sitting quietly and observing the world around you can bring incredible calm and focus, I have never been good at meditation but there are certain activities that have meditative qualities which I can readily tap into and nature journaling is one. It can really help you slow down and focus, and to appreciate the very real wonder and beauty of the world.