Connecting With Nature

These fun and simple techniques for connecting with nature will help you establish a deeper relationship with the world around you.

| October/November 2006

  • connecting with nature - overview sketch
    As well as helping you connect with nature, keeping a nature journal can be a relaxing and rewarding experience.
    Illustration by Clare Walker Leslie
  • connecting with nature - mushrooms
    Drawing is a great tool for recording for recording information and will sharpen your ability to observe, identify and pick up on subtle details.
    Clare Walker Leslie
  • connecting with nature - squirrels
    As you observe, sketch something and then write notes beside and/or around the sketch.
    Clare Walker Leslie
  • connecting with nature - butterflies and bees
    Butterflies and bees.
    Clare Walker Leslie
  • connecting with nature - landscape
    Your sketches don't have to be high quality. They just need to convey a sense of what you see around you.
    Clare Walker Leslie

  • connecting with nature - overview sketch
  • connecting with nature - mushrooms
  • connecting with nature - squirrels
  • connecting with nature - butterflies and bees
  • connecting with nature - landscape

In today’s accelerated world, it’s important to take time to breathe. Literally, of course, but also to breathe in the sights, scents and sounds of nature: to watch a sunset, walk through a park or get away from the city lights so you can really see the stars shine. Such examples are easy ways of connecting with nature. Also, by keeping a journal and practicing a few simple techniques, you can build even stronger connections. Not only will you observe unique events, you’ll feel more alive — awake and attuned to the world around you. It will refresh and energize your body and mind

That we are drawn to and can be inspired by the natural world should come as no surprise. Because human beings evolved in nature, we have an “instinctive love of living things,” according to Edward O. Wilson, the renowned biologist known as “the father of biodiversity.” Wilson calls this instinct biophilia, and says our inherent capacity to “draw deep excitement and pleasure” from nature has been and always will be essential to our survival.

David Petersen, a former MOTHER EARTH NEWS editor and author of On the Wild Edge: In Search of a Natural Life, concurs with nature’s importance to our past, present and future. “The human species evolved alongside fellow animals of every fur and feather,” he says. “Without our fellow animals, we would not be human. Animals and what remains of the wild, natural world are central to our emotional as well as biological well-being.”

What follows are ideas to help you explore your own instinctive responses to nature and become an amateur naturalist. All you need is an open mind, a journal and a commitment to spend time outdoors. Other inexpensive tools could include books, field guides, watercolors and an assortment of colored pens and pencils.

Find a Place

In his book A Sense of Place, artist and conservationist Alan Gussow says, “As humans we require support for our spirits, and this is what certain kinds of places provide. A place is a piece of whole environment that has been claimed by feeling.” Choose a place to study that touches your heart and mind — one that piques your interest and evokes a feeling of connection. Depending on where you live, your back yard may be the nearest option. Other possibilities can be almost anywhere and may surprise you — a rooftop garden or a secluded nook at a city park, for example.

Make a Commitment

Like all relationships, getting to know a place takes time. The best way to do this is to regularly visit your place, whether it’s every day, once a month or whatever works for you. Even after several visits, you’ll be amazed at how many “new” things you observe each time.


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