Here is our pond this week:
This week we are just past the six month mark of a year long pond study, and I can’t actually believe I made it this far. It seems incredible that for the past 26 or so weeks we have faithfully visited our little pond. I am proud of us all. However, this pond study hasn’t turned out how I expected at all. Let me explain.
I have always failed miserably at nature study. Each year we would buy in a curriculum or special nature diary or nature note pages all of which promised me success at nature study. I would read blog posts about packing for a nature trip and all the things I would need. These are probably helpful to many people but if I’m honest we would start and it would all too soon begin to feel like just one more thing to add to the growing list of things we had to do and then write about. And so it fell by the way side.
My children are enthusiastic about nature. In fact I am blessed to have children that, in general, are enthusiastic about most things. I didn’t want to let that enthusiasm for God’s creation go to waste. So I came up with a plan to do a year long pond study, just visiting once a week. I didn’t plan more than a couple of weeks in advance but I did have lots of ideas that I hoped to incorporate in a structured way throughout the year.
Instead of filling in notepages or individual journals the children and I decided to keep a family nature journal, which the girls happily made up on week one:
And so we set off on our ponding adventures.
To journal or not to journal? (Not as it happens!)
The first thing to fall by the wayside was the journal. We did manage to do two months worth:
Thing was, we found that we didn’t want to focus on note taking, drawing or collecting specimens (I’m not saying these are bad things AT ALL). The truth is that the pond captured our hearts, our attention and our affections almost from the very first visit. It seemed almost rude to take notes whilst conversing with the ducks and trees. And no we weren’t actually talking, but by observing them, in their environment, it felt a little like we had been invited round for a friendly visit to someone’s house. We didn’t want to be bad guests by not giving our hosts our full attention! That said, we still took the liberty of taking copious amounts of photos so I’m not convinced we would have been their most well mannered guests!
I’m probably not explaining myself very well, but the reality is that nature study, for us, has been simply about observing nature. Really nothing is required except our presence and the nature. Period. It is that simple. No, maybe that is not as exciting as buying in supplies and making beautiful note books, and by all means anyone who enjoys these activities should go on ahead! (The girls occasionally take note books, I just don’t require them to) For us though, the excitement has been the nature pure and simple. And it becomes more alluring every week we go.
Nature’s Own Schedule
Another thing to go by the wayside was my own planning. That’s not to say that these days I don’t plan at all, it’s just very flexible. Nature has it’s own schedule, and it’s one with which I am unfamiliar. We have dropped plans for an injured duck:
To see the Canada Geese dance:
And to just quietly observe the sheer variety of animals around the pond one week, from ducks, to mating bees, to frogspawn to a huge turtle:
And just simply to gaze at the beauty of our heron:
You see, the pond has always got something better to offer than I can imagine up in my head. Nowadays we just grab our cameras and go. Yes, that simple. And that is why we manage to go, not just once a week, but often much more. The pond calls to us like the siren’s did Odysseus, and we are helpless but to obey.