Saturday, February 15, 2014

The living pages of nature notebooks

We have never been the faithfullest of nature notebookers, partly because we weren't the faithfullest of nature walkers either.  I know I am not alone in that, and of course there's always the excuse of the weather (especially this winter), but Charlotte Mason or no Charlotte Mason, we just didn't seem to be natural naturalists.

And yet this morning as I brought in bags of groceries, and noticed that it was slightly warmer and that the sunshine was just a little stronger, I also heard an unmistakable sound of spring: a chickadee calling "fee-bee, fee-bee." I know chickadees stay for the winter, but you don't hear them whistling until winter's over its worst.  And the funny part was, I kept thinking "calendar of firsts, put it on a calendar of firsts." Which I don't have, but you can tell how much the notebooking idea has been on my mind.

I thought of it last night too, when a flock of crows the size of large chickens landed on our backyard apple tree at dinner time.  A lot of the apples never fell, and they've been hanging, frozen, in the bare tree, ever since last fall, feeding birds and squirrels.  At this time of year, we often see crows, hundreds of them, roosting in neighborhood trees at dusk; but they usually choose the tops of the tallest evergreens, not our wimpy little apple tree.  I guess the frozen-fruit offering must have attracted them, although they were nervous enough to scoot for safer heights before Mr. Fixit could get a photo.

In these days when all you hear is "climate change," and when there seem to be so many wind storms, ice storms, crazy seasons, it seems to make more sense than ever to do a bit of Gilbert White-style, little-corner-of-the-world record keeping; to participate in the backyard bird counts, to be "citizen scientists." Yes, there are official records kept of everything from temperature to snowfall to mosquito predictions; everything's computerized and video-recorded, and I'm sure that professional biologists and naturalists out there have given the official word that winter is ending, spring is coming.  Or will come if it ever stops snowing.

But they didn't see my crows, or hear my chickadee, did they?

So I guess it's up to us.

Linked from The Living Page, Discussion #2, at Wildflowers and Marbles.


Jen Mackintosh said...

I was grateful to read that excerpt from the CM archives that part that the weather is mentioned as a reason for not having added to the nature notebook for a month. What a relief - even 1st generation CM'ers dropped the nature notebook ball every now and again!

Loved the image of all those crows on your apple tree! That would have made a great picture!!

Naomi said...

"But they didn't see my crows, or hear my chickadee, did they?" So beautifully stated. That's just exactly it!

Celeste said...

Love this--wonderful. There is something to be said for anecdotal evidence in a world where the "experts" dominate just about everything. :)