Keeping the autumn nature journal often means capturing the sounds, scents, and colors of a fleeting moment.
Autumn is known as “Fall” in some parts of North America because of the falling leaves of deciduous trees. Here in Philadelphia, it is “Fall”.
I love the Fall. It is hands down my favorite season. The air cools. The maple leaves turn brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows here in Philadelphia. The birds are migrating overhead. And honking Canada Geese fly in formation in crystal clear blue skies.
The autumnal equinox on September 21 or 22 is the “beginning of fall”. For some people Fall begins weeks before on August 7 (Lamas or Lughnasadh on the Old English and Celtic calendars). This would make the September equinox the mid-point.
September, October, and November are the fall months in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the season is from March until June.
What to write, draw or photograph in the fleeting moments of fall?
The Weather and Atmosphere
- How does the season affect you and other humans?
- Record the changes in the temperature, length of days, and the weather.
- Check for new and first frosts on the grass each morning.
- What does the season smell like? I love the smell of burning wood as people start using their fireplaces again.
- Notice how plants, animals, and people prepare for winter.
- Make an appointment to record the position where the sun rises on the equinox. Keep a chart of the rising sun for the whole year of solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter days.
- Go outside on the nights of the season’s full moons. Journal about your experience.
- Which trees and shrubs are changing colors. What colors? What trees and shrubs change first?
- Draw fall berries and seeds.
- Collect the leaves and acorns of different oak trees and sketch or photograph them
- Collect the leaves and seeds of different trees and sketch or photograph them.
- Draw/photograph/list the fall-blooming native flowers.
- Draw the harvest. Pumpkins, squash, corn and more.
- Learn to recognize ragweed. The scourge of seasonal allergy sufferers.
- What insects are still about? Where do you find them?
- What birds are visiting your feeders?
- Watch squirrel behavior, from high-speed chases to nest-building and nut gathering.
- It sounds gruesome, but record road kills by numbers and species. Sometimes you don’t realize that an animal lives near you until you see it dead.
- What seeds and nuts are animals storing?
- Are some animals noticeably fatter? Are humans?
- Find, draw or photograph mushrooms.
- Listen for the migration calls of geese.
- Watch for fall migration and hibernation activity.
- Look for insect eggs, cocoons, and chrysalis on plants and beneath logs and rocks.
Remember to collect responsibly.
The Best Books on Keeping a Nature Journal – links to Amazon.com
Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker and Charles E. Roth
The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws
The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms by Clare Walker Leslie