Once again I find myself drawing on the work of ecological philosopher Mitchell Thomashow. As mentioned previously, in Bringing the Biosphere Home: Learning to Perceive Global Environmental Change, Thomashow proposes the practice of a place-based perceptual ecology, the coupling of the sensory and the scientific. In the introduction to the book he writes; “I stress perceptual ecology because learning about landscapes, habitats, and species is both a perceptual and an ecological challenge, requiring specific observational skills and practices.” Continue reading
Category Archives: Natural History
A Naturlist’s Manifesto (Pt. 2): Natural History & Nature Journaling
The impetus for this four-part essay stems from a recognizable trend regarding the fading art and practice of natural history and nature journaling. Here I will speak to two specific reasons why I believe that natural history and nature journaling should be taken up and promoted as a daily practice.
There is a great danger in relegating natural history observation to a quite meadow or a remote alpine lake. Whether it is our intent or not, we are sending a message to our students about where nature is and is not. While this could be considered an overreaction, there is a significant problem that we face in an urbanizing world in which many students grow up believing that nature does not exist in their city and schoolyard. I certainly don’t believe any one of us who brings students into the field wants to contribute to such a bifurcated view. In fact, I’d guess that most would want to do any and every thing possible to promote the idea that we can see and experience wildness in the everyday. Continue reading
A Naturlist’s Manifesto (Pt. 1): Preamble – Planetary Perceptions
Naturalizing from a cruising altitude of 35,000 ft……
I write this from the cabin of a plane. With three flights to get me from Burlington, Vermont to Bozeman, Montana, it’s going to be a long day and has required an early departure.
On the first leg of my travels, while still groggy, I find myself gazing intently out the window. Flying at an unusually low altitude this morning, the opportunity for observing the landscape passing by below is outstanding. I peer out in time to spot several bodies of water. Soon I’m able to recognize our approximate location. Long Lake, in the heart of the Adirondacks, stretches out below! It’s all too familiar, having spent many a days wandering around its outlet. The Cold River, which flows into the Raquette River near the outlet of Long Lake, is perhaps my favorite place in the Adirondacks. The wild blueberries in August are a delightful addition to a breakfast of pancakes.