Nature gives us so much, including simple opportunities for exercising our observational skills. We don’t have to be John Muir to appreciate the sensual gifts of nature, nor do we have to travel far. Here are some easy ways we can practice wonder.
Notice weather patterns: wind direction, cloud types, humidity levels.
Notice plant and leaf shapes.
Notice whether the trees have acorns, pecans, walnuts, etc.
Notice the lacy edge of trees against the sky. Imagine what their roots must look like underground.
Sit outside and listen quietly.
Look for tracks and scat.
Notice air quality: haze versus clarity.
Smell the outdoors.
Look for seeds and their interesting designs.
Notice patterns and colors in small natural artifacts.
What is the current phase of the moon?
Was there any dew this morning?
What plants in your surroundings are evergreen? Deciduous? Fruit-bearing?
What time does the sun rise? Set?
What birds are present? What birds are absent?
Grow something edible.
Plant wildflower or annual seeds.
Visit nature centers.
Join a garden club, even if you don’t have time or the desire to garden. Attend meetings and listen.
Keep fresh flowers in your home. Even a single bloom in a tiny vase from the dollar store reminds us of other living beings.
Take walks. Keep an informal journal of what you see. Carry your camera.
Occasionally look up the name of an insect, grass, bird, tree.
Read something connected to nature. Search out a few nature related poems and keep them handy.
Write a description of a lizard or a plant or a mammal that you usually overlook.
Pay close attention to your pet. Notice body language, especially when you stroke its fur or pat its head or scratch its chin.
Read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv for evidence of how nature matters in our lives.
What suggestions would you add that would help us develop this practice of wonder?
Describe the most striking natural items you see outside your door.
Respond to any of the above ideas.