[Tweeters] Kid's, Keep a Journal

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Mar 24 15:21:02 PDT 2014

After 58 years of creating a long, mostly unwritten, list of personal shortcomings, and many examples of somewhat substandard behaviors on my part, (hey, nobody's perfect!), there is one thing that really bugs me that I just can't make up for - not starting a nature journal earlier than I did.

My regret is pretty much worthless, unless this post could help inspire some young naturalist!

My big regret is that I didn't start my nature journals way back when I could first write a paragraph, because I was one of those kid's just born with naturalist tendencies, and I really haven't stopped.

As a young twerp, I was a fairly accomplished nature nerd, much thanks to my camper parents for exposing me to many wonderful natural habitats, and to the Seattle Public Library system for books that helped me find out more about what I was seeing in them tidepools, or wherever. When a young teenager, the Stebbin's (peterson series) guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians was just one of my 'bibles' - I might've had had the darn thing nearly memorized at one point - it was a real 'intercostal groove', if you (herpers) know what I mean. Herpetology, botany, entomology, freshwater and marine biology, geology and birdology- as a kid I knew more about some of that stuff than I remember now.

And there's the rub; remembering.

I didn't start keeping a nature journal until I was 19 years old, by which time I'd seen all sorts of incredible stuff that I just can't remember critical details of now. For example, many experiences I had at Wildberry Lake, Mason county Wa., where my family has property, and I had many wonderful observations of birds and stuff in the late 60's and early 70's. The general area is the "Tahuya plateau", which is inside the 'hook' of Hood Canal. Wildberry is at around 400' elevation, in the Puget Sound lowlands, yet there are Gray Jay's, Sooty Grouse, and Snowshoe Hares regularly found there - creatures of typically higher elevations. But I just can't remember what time of year I saw the birds - sort of an interesting detail. ( I've spent little time there in recent decades).

Another interesting dent on memories, is dreaming. I don't know about you, but I often dream of nature experiences. Funny evolution of memory happens in dreams. For example, over time I'd had a recurring dream of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 6 of them, blowing their little red stacks at me, just overhead, as I woke up one morning in my sleeping bag at a beach on the Washington coast. Except, looking at a journal note one day, I'd recorded it as only two, and at a different beach. Another dream was of a wonderful oak grove I'd camped in up in the Santa Lucia range above Big Sur, California. Over the years my dreams had morphed this oak grove into trees of dramatically larger proportions. Visiting the same spot years later was a reality check. The dreams were pretty cool though, and I wouldn't throw those babies out with the bathwater just because of a few facts.

You see, kid's, what you don't know, is that one day you aint gonna remember a lot of what you see or otherwise experience right now. So keep a journal I say! Are there any kid's even on tweeters? If not, maybe the rest of us could plant the idea in youthful minds. Hey, just because you're young, don't mean you're not interested and interesting!

As for what youth would use for a journal these days, this curmudgeon has no clue, nor techno help. I recommend one of those cardboard covered Composition notebooks, with the cloth and sewn-thru binding- very sturdy and easy to pack. I've never lost a page from one. Pencils and waterproof pens are reliable writing mediums - I can still read my journals from almost 40 years ago. Computers are fine - unless some hacker gets on your 'cloud', as the Rolling Stones might say. If you don't know what a Rolling Stone is, just ask a Geezer, or Geezerette, and while you're at it, ask them about birds - maybe they got something interesting in their journal. Something you maybe can't google.

Jeff Gibson
taking a few notes in
Port Townsend Wa

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