I have been making notes about the seasons in a daybook since 1978. Each day’s post contains observations of common events in nature in my neighborhood, village and nearby parks.
I have learned that events in nature occur more or less at the same times each year. Sometimes I see trends, and I enjoy comparing the quality of seasons. I enjoy finding new things the more I look.
What is most rewarding in all of this is discovering my life in the observations I make. The daybook has become an autobiography in the sense Jean-Jacques Rousseau expressed in his Reveries of the Solitary Walker. When Rousseau went back through his botanical collections, he relived his life within what he felt was the idyllic context of his informal research. His collection of plants became a kind of filter for his view of the past that only allowed the tranquility of his nature walks and his thoughts and daydreams of the time to shine through.
As I look through the notes I have made, I remember the tranquility that surrounded my own experiences of discovery and recording. I hold on to what Rousseau called “accessory ideas” that my entries evoke, and I see that the practice of noticing the world and of finding myself in it and of making myself part of its story has been so much of my life.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I'll be back again next week with notes for the fourth week of middle summer. In the meantime, go to the woods. Make that part of your story.