Get Back to Nature
During times of turmoil and uncertainty, I turn to nature. Nature is adaptable yet reliable, flexible yet firm. Nature reminds me that there is a bigger picture, a cycle that connects us all. Nature has seen tragedy and wonder time and time again, and it presses on.
During this time of social distancing, one of the most comforting things I am still allowed to do is get outdoors and explore. While it is important to limit your contact with other people and shared spaces, you are not restricted to your house. If you're anything like me, a brief walk around the block, an easy hike on a nearby trail, or running through an open field can do the soul wonders.
Whether you've got kids who are going stir crazy, or you're going stir crazy yourself, here are some outdoor activities I've been turning to during this strange time. Follow along on Facebook (@SharePaintLLC or @GreatSaltLakeAudubon) for a weekly breakdown of these activities.There, I will describe in further detail why these activities are important, what they can teach you or your kids, and what materials I recommend. In addition, I will post a few printouts that compliment the activities!
1. Birdwatching (for Anyone!)
Birdwatching is absolutely one of my favorite pastimes! It's easy to pick up, works for any budget, and you can do it from anywhere! Is there a better hobby? I don't think so!
The more I learn about birds, the more I want to know. They are fascinating creatures and can tell us so much about the health of our environment and local ecosystem. Although you don't even have to leave your house to watch birds, I encourage you to!
There are numerous books and pamphlets that can teach you about birds in your area, but during this time it may be easier to download a phone app. Some of my favorite apps are:
Audubon (for reading up on specific species and tracking your "life list")
Birding in Utah (for viewing birding "hot spots in Utah)
eBird (for logging birds seen into a global database)
and Merlin Bird ID (for trying to figure out what an unknown bird might be)
While you're at it, take a look at apps that might help with other wildlife and plant identification!
2. Nature Journaling (for Anyone!)
Nature journaling can be done in different ways - the important thing is to record in a sketchbook or notebook what you see around you! These recordings can be in the form of journaling, drawing, painting, and so on.
Journals and sketchbooks can be purchased almost anywhere and range in price and style from dollar store notepads to waterproof multimedia booklets that can hold up to paint or ink.
Not sure what to write or draw about? Start by asking open-ended questions such as: "What is interesting?", "What do I find pretty or strange?", "What kinds of animals or plants share the same space?", or "what are the animals doing?" Look all around you, from the ground to the sky and think about your senses. What do you hear? What do you smell?
Detailed descriptions or sketches of plants and animals can be used to research unknown creatures at another time. Be sure to make note of "field marks" - markings that make it different from other plants or animals (patterns, colors, shape, size, location, etc).
6. Recycle Crafts (for Anyone!)
Sometimes building som