February and March are such busy months nature-wise in our part of the country! We have days of glorious weather (sunny and in the 70s) followed by chilly days (overcast and in the low 60s), and then rain here and there. It is wonderfully refreshing and delightfully inspiring after the brown-brown-brown of winter.
In February, we watched our backyard come alive: daffodil buds, blossoms on the maples and hebe bushes, leaves on the hibiscus and the honey locusts. Welcome Robin began his daily visits to our garden once again, and song sparrows and finches visited the crepe myrtles along the side yard. Since it remains warm here during the winter, the birds don't migrate away, but they definitely get louder and busier as spring arrives. We watched ducks showboating along the creek (great fun!) and saw the wattle trees bloom yellow and then fade to green.
In March, we saw the poison oak shrubs start to re-leaf, alongside the horse chestnuts and the sycamores. We watched the creek park become enveloped in green canopy and green carpet. We hunted and hunted for wildflowers, finding first their tell-tale leaves, then hints of blossoms. Now some have already gone to seed, and we're busy identifying the new ones that pop up with each successive month.
As you might guess, the children have been very inspired in their journaling lately. For the past couple months, Gianna has started including a little dialogue info-graphic on each spread, with make-believe characters asking and answering questions about her nature finds (in various British dialects, ala Redwall, of course). Drawing people is her first love, but I've always told her that our nature journals are reserved for our nature discoveries. Here, though, I can't help but allow it; it is just so very indicative of her personality. (And that snippet of poetry? Out of her memory, added all on her own. It's working!)
Vincent's journal pages are stark but careful. He is the more interested one in the field and the more detail-oriented one at the drawing table. His fine motor skills are catching up with his enthusiasm. I love his comment, "I know both Magpie and Meadowlark by heart." Melt. He is right, though--he was able to identify both of those birds at sight even though we had never seen either before. The meadowlark he recognized first by its call. I am constantly amazed by the knowledge he has picked up just through reading.
My journal pages are chatty and comprehensive. I don't have as much time to journal as I would like, but I do sit down for at least a few minutes each week and at the very least, take notes and lists. I actually love the writing, almost as much as I enjoy painting and sketching. I don't share my nature journal all that often here, but at least half of it is just words. And I find myself going back to my notes from previous years very often, hunting for name, date, or location.
And, of course, I pull out our Book of Firsts to add new entries there too. We now have three years of data to compare. So we know that spring is a couple weeks early this year, and we had our eyes fixed on the roadsides waiting for the first poppies to appear the week before they arrived.
Now the hills are streaked yellow with mustard flowers or striped amber and violet as poppies and lupines vie for growing room. It is a full, rich season, and we are trying to capture what we can.
The children are in the last few pages of their current journals, and then we will swap them for new ones--and just in time, as we head into our vacation months full of plenty of time to adventure and record!