At 6:30 a.m., it’s only 52 degrees. I spotted a small RABBIT in the extra parking space across the road and a ROBIN perched on the wire to the right of the mailbox. It’s actually chilly this morning for a change. I hear a BLUE JAY fussing somewhere nearby. Walking up the middle path through the field I heard a PHOEBE, NUTHATCH, and HOUSE WREN. Noticed BINDWEED in bloom. Also MEADOWSWEET and GOLDENROD. Heard a WINTER WREN singing from the woods near Bob’s Pond again this morning. I flushed FOUR DUCKS when I got to the pond. Ducks always see me before I see them….

Sitting on the Eagle Scout’s Bench at 6:40 a.m., I heard a GOLDFINCH and realized that I’m having a MAJOR MELTDOWN. I’ve been taking long walks — many of them early in the morning — for over 30 years, and I’ve also been taking notes in my little pocket notebooks. Now that I’m trying to type them all up to create a blog-as-searchable-archive of my many years of observation, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I don’t even feel like taking walks anymore because I’ll just have to type up more of what right now feels like trivia. The WALKS themselves are important because they are my PRACTICE, my HOMEWORK FOR A VISION, and the notebooks are part of it all too. They keep me moving, they keep me writing, they keep me paying attention, they help me remember, and they used to provide me with the raw material to work with when I was writing. ( JUST HEARD AND SAW A PILEATED WOODPECKER. IT FLEW INTO THE TOP OF A TALL TREE AT THE OTHER END OF THE POND.) But as I’m typing up my current entries plus the old ones, I’m losing energy, losing confidence, questioning whether it’s worth it. The notebooks exist. The records — such as they are — are there in my own handwriting. Maybe all I need is an INDEX?

I’m just remembering the year I spent writing a monthly column for a friend who was editing a new outdoor magazine. I worked through all my old notebooks searching for details that would help me create the feeling of the month, the key events that mark that particular time of year. Then I wrote up a little introductory essay and offered dated references — notes from my notebooks — of what I had observed one year or another. To put it all together, I took notes on my notes, creating a rough index to key observations, and by the end of my year of columns had come up with what could be a small book entitled A NATURALIST’S YEAR — or maybe A NATURALIST’S CALENDAR? I’m just remembering that my friend told me that his readers were telling him that they always turned to my column first. Since they were mostly hunters and fishermen, I was pleased to know that they found my observations interesting.

Maybe I should rethink what I’m doing? Maybe this NATURALIST’S JOURNAL blog should be my thoughts and meditations, plus just enough surrounding detail to establish where I was, the mood I was in, etc. Maybe I should also include key sightings — FIRST OF SEASONS and other SEASONAL INDICATORS? Or should all those go into my INDEX, which I can call my NATURALIST’S ARCHIVE?

My huge stack of notebooks are all just raw material. I need to CREATE something — or maybe several things — out of them to make all the typing feel worthwhile. If I just type and type and type them, I’m just a drone, a clerk/typist.

So now I’ve got THREE PROJECTS instead of just this one long endless one: (1) A NATURALIST’S ARCHIVE (an index, an annotated index, a skeletal reference system to help me find things in my pocket notebooks) (2) A NATURALIST’S YEAR — or CALENDAR (the columns I wrote for my friend’s short-lived outdoor magazine) (3) A NATURALIST’S JOURNAL (my moods and moments, my thoughts, and just enough fact and detail to create the time and place, the context).

So now I’m not depressed anymore, but I’m not quite sure where to begin. Heard a CHICKADEE while I was writing. The BLACKBERRIES are turning red and some are already black.

At the Thinking Bench at 7:15 a.m., I just noticed that someone scratched what looks like a big spider where I usually sit. It’s not carved into the wood, just scratched into the dark discoloring that will eventually decompose this whole bench. I wonder who did it and when? Ah, the mysteries happening all around me while I’m thinking about things….

Advertisements