I was thinking about the book I mentioned the other day, The Shape of a Year by Jean Hersey, and was reminded of the year I kept a nature journal. It was quite exhilarating to record the year's daily changes from the pink sunrise on January first, to the first blossoms of April, through the dry heat of August, to the astounding colors of autumn.
Out of curiosity I pulled the journal - a black and white composition notebook - out of the cabinet where I have all my journals stored. I see that the year was MMIV (since 2000 - MM - I have taken to using Roman numerals for the year). I actually carried on writing in it until the 31st of March of MMV which finished out the pages of the book. Very tidy.
Each day I recorded the time, the temperature, and what was going on outside my window: snow, rain, lightning, sunshine, clouds, the moon, the color of the sky, what the squirrels and birds were up to.
I took photos, collected 'specimens'...well, leaves and dried petals and such, and if I had thought of it I would have done some sketching. It is certainly not The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by any means, as I live in the city, but my back yard offered plenty to record.
There are photos of the first fluffy snow, the first green shoots announcing daffodils to come, broken tree branches in the yard from a big windstorm, a pink climbing rose in bloom. I am amazed to see that I was making entries as early as 5:45 a.m. Wow! I don't get up quite that early nowadays.
I also recorded a bit about the history of each month, the number of days, the astrological sign associated with it, and the name and date of the full moon.
I don't recall what source I used for the information, but for example, I recorded that November is the eleventh month in our calendar but was named for the ninth month in the old Roman calendar. The ancient Celts began this month with Samhain, Gaelic for "summer's end," a day to bid goodbye to warmth and light. The month has 30 days and is associated with Scorpio (water sign/resolute). The full Beaver Moon was on November 26.
Here is the entry for November 7 of that year:
42 degrees and steady at 7 a.m. Clear, sunny and very cool today. Expecting a freeze tonight. Clipped the roses and brought in the plants off the porch.
Also two tiny golden leaves no bigger than a thumbprint - they would be eight years old now -were pressed between the pages and slipped out when I opened to the date. How extraordinary.