There are myriad things to notice when you step outside, no matter where you are: city, woodland grove, campground or backcountry, there’s always something to notice.
1. Bird sounds: how many different calls do you hear? Can you guess where they are? Is it a bird, insect, frog or some other call? Can you find the bird with your eyes or binoculars?
2. Spiders: they say that at any time, there is a spider somewhere within 8 feet of where you are. In nature it is probably closer than that. Count how many different types you encounter. See if you can find some different kinds of webs.
3. Wild Plants: there are lots of interesting plants out there! Some are edible, some have been used for medicine for thousands of years. Mosses are some very interesting plants to notice. Which plants are flowering? Some plants are even poisonous! What is in YOUR neighborhood?
4. Mushrooms: many people appreciate the fantastic numbers and different types of fungus that grows nearly everywhere, depending on weather. Keep a journal of photographs or drawings to keep track of them all!
5. Evidence of animal life. This could be footprints/tracks, scat, or actual animal sightings. Look for coyote, bear, turkey, or other animals that are local for you!
6. Clouds: the sky is an ever changing expression of the weather conditions. How many cloud formations can you name? Do you know what kind of conditions make them?
7. Insects and grubs: they are everywhere! How many different kinds can you find? Where do they live? Do they make noise? Are they edible? Would you ever try one?
8. Trees: some areas have only a few kinds of trees while others have a wide variety. Do you know your tree leaves? How about bark? Have you ever made a bark print to identify it later in a book? Do you know which trees we can tap for syrup or give us nuts or which ones are great companions for choice mushrooms?
9. Weather: fluctuations in the days temperature, humidity and precipitation can all influence how lovely your time outside can be. What kinds of clothing do you bring to ensure you can enjoy all types of weather? Would you ever camp in the snow? Would you hunt mushrooms in the woods thick with humidity, mosquitoes and ticks?
10. Scent: each season seems to bring its own smell with it. Most people know exactly what someone means when they say “it smells like spring, or fall” but it is hard to describe what that is exactly. What do you smell when you first go outside? Can you smell other things as you move through the environment? Stop and try closing your eyes while you check.
11. Contact: many people like to keep their hands and feet clean, but there is something about walking barefoot on the ground and feeling the dirt with your hands. Notice the different kinds of soil you encounter. Is it sandy? Rich and loamy? Mud? Clay? Are there worms or other composters in there?
12. Quiet: With our hectic schedules and need to be plugged in, quiet is something many people are becoming uncomfortable with. Do not take your phone or notepad. Do not talk to your friend. Do not hum or talk to yourself. Listen.
What are you noticing outside lately?