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Nature Study: Seton’s Three Essentials

In general, to those who would know the wild things: Keep a journal of your notes, sketches, and photos; get a good handbook; collect specimens — and you have the three basic things. All the rest will be in measure of your perseverance. — Edward Thompson Seton

Nature Journal

This can be as simple as some loose sheets of paper in a clipboard which you bind together later (and we’ll be discussing how you can do that) or you can purchase a blank journal or sketchbook.

Field Guides

With the internet at our fingertips, field guides are not as necessary as they once were. (I’m not entirely ancient and I remember having to wait to walk across town to the library to get the answer to a question that had been bothering me for days.) But would we give them up? I love my collection, which is dominated by vintage guides purchased inexpensively at thrift stores. They are great for on-the-spot identification, and a specific field guide (mushrooms, prairie plants) lets you learn on the spot, no wait necessary.

Collecting Specimens

Small ziploc bags are great for collecting specimens to bring home and examine at your leisure. Remember that if you are in a park, there are probably rules against collecting items —maybe you can’t pick things, or maybe you can’t even collect them from the ground. Ask first.

With these three things, you are ready to begin studying nature.



Nature Study

I had no idea there was so much going on in Heywood’s meadow.
—Henry David Thoreau

To study nature is to become intimately acquainted with the world at your doorstep, at your footstep.

We study nature in the same way that we learn while homeschooling — without planned lessons, without directions to follow. Nature is the ultimate provocation, and we let her inspire us — then it’s up to us to learn more. It’s one of our favorite ways to learn how to learn, and it’s one of our favorite provocations.

We wanted to make a place to share a wild collection of treasures — from pinecones to paintings, from beetles to books. We hope you’ll have things to share, too.

Let’s go!

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