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F.W. eats a cookie







Keby's Sunflowers

Kiweenie Chases Lunch

Becky Thinking

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  • F.W.'s picture

    F.W. and dragonfly






    I brought some empty notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, and tape on our camping trip so everybody could make their own nature journal. I think it's the best way to remember and store all of the cool stuff you see when out in nature. Here, I'll show you how you can make one too!








    Get a notebook that is a style and size that you are comfortable with. It can either be blank or lined, but spiral bound notebooks are the best type for this kind of journal.

    Cover to F.W.'s nature journal


    Also make sure it is roomy enough for you to draw in it or to glue in samples (like flowers or leaves). Your nature journal is basically just a record that you keep of things that catch your eye when you are outside.


    F.W.'s Nature Journal spread

    Here are some ideas of the kinds of things that you can put in your nature journal.




    If you're stuck on how to get started try getting out your drawing supplies and drawing your favorite tree in your backyard. Along with the drawing write down any observations you make about the tree and maybe take a sample of its leaves to tape into your book.

    Nature journal tree.



    After you add drawings or samples to your journal, find out what they are and write them down. Your parents or a friend might know, or else you can always look it up. But if you don't know what something is while looking at it don't worry about it. Just write and draw what you see with the best description you can give and you can always figure out what it is later.


    Nature Journal berries




    Try filling a whole page with just stuff you see from one spot, and see how it all adds up to really give you an good idea about a place!


    nature journal river



    If you are lucky enough to come across something like baby birds in a nest, you can do an ongoing entry in your journal where you check on them every couple of days and record their changes. Just make sure not to get too close to wild animals, and of course never touch them.


    Uh oh, I better go explain it a little better to Kiweenie. I see him over by a bush squishing bugs in his book and then licking the pages! Oh yeah, that's another rule—don’t ever kill anything to put it in your journal. If it is alive, then draw a picture to remember it by. Have fun nature journaling!



  • Rhetorical's picture

    Ah, it's my turn to tell a tale around the fire is it? Ramses & F.W. are bugging me to tell you a horror story that would keep you up for weeks, but I don't I don't think I'm in the mood. Although, I will be happy to tell you about some mysterious beings as old as time. Trees.


    You see, trees are the longest living things on the surface of our planet, and, yes, some are even older than I am. They are the largest, too. Sure, there are many things in nature that can kill a tree, things like lightning strikes, bug infestations, and humans, but as it is said “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” and these old trees are mighty indeed. They are true survivors and worthy of our respect. I’ll tell you about two of my favorite old friends.
    The most famous of the old trees are the sequoias (pronounced sih-KWOY-uhs). These massive trees have been around for millions of years. In fact, when dinosaurs roamed the earth you could find these trees all across North America and Europe. But, about a million years ago, the temperature of the earth changed, and these magnificent trees began to die off. Now, sequoias only grow naturally in just a few small areas of northern California. The oldest ones still around are somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 years old. A mature sequoia tree, and it is only mature after a thousand years, has a trunk that goes straight up for 100 to150 feet (which is like 25 adults standing on each other’s shoulders) without a single branch. Then, high up on the trunk, large twisted branches spread out. As the tree grows bigger, the branches and trunk grow bigger to help keep its balance. The average height of a sequoia from the ground to the top branches is 250 feet! We would have more sequoia trees to marvel at if it weren’t for all the settlers that moved to California. They didn’t appreciate the majesty of these trees and only saw them as timber to build their new houses and ships. They ended up cutting most of these trees down. If you have an opportunity to visit the sequoias, don’t pass it up. I myself like to sit quietly among these mighty trees, imagining a time when the land was covered by these beings so great that they even made the dinosaurs look small.


    bristlecone pine
    The oldest tree in the world (and the oldest living inhabitant of our planet) is the bristlecone pine. Many can live 4,000 or more years, and the oldest is thought to be 4,767 years old. To give you an idea of how long ago that is, let me tell you this: some of the bristlecone pine trees that are living today were seedlings when the pyramids were being built. Impressed now? I know I may have given you the impression that the old trees of the world are all very tall, but the bristlecone pines are exceptions. They are actually quite small compared to the sequoias, only sixty feet at most. In fact some of the oldest are quite short and gnarled looking. When a tree lives to be that old, it has many tricky ways to survive. Invasions from bacteria, fungi or insects that prey upon most plants are unknown to the bristlecone due to its dense wood and high quantity of resin (sap). The needles on the tree are also very long living, so the tree doesn’t need to use much energy to produce new ones. Even when one of these trees dies, you might not know it because it can remain standing for hundreds of years.

    Sequoia size





    I think it’s important that more humans learn to protect and respect all of these trees, from sequoias to bristlecones, so they have a chance to live hundreds, or even thousands, of years longer. I look out for them because we old folks have to stick together.



    Main Illustrations by Drew Weing

    Bottom Illustrations and all colors by Ryan Wilson



    bristlecone vs human size















  • Keby's picture

    conversation with a treebird from a tree







    ne of my favorite things about camping is meeting new trees. All of the trees on our farm are my dear friends. We know everything about each other. But, in a new forest I see a whole bunch of new friends I can talk with.


    Wait…why are you looking at me like that? Haven't you ever talked to a tree?

    It might sound like a strange thing to do. After all, to have a conversation you need two people involved and do trees actually talk? You might be surprised to learn that, yes, they do, although not in the way you might think.


    The secret to listening to a tree talk is silence. Trees speak very quietly, and you have to be quiet to hear them. With a pad of paper and a pen, sit by a tree with which you would like to have a conversation. Now just sit. Don’t do anything, just watch the tree. Listen to the leaves blow in the breeze, watch the animals jump around its branches, notice how far its roots go, look at the bark and see if it’s damaged, or thick and strong. Look at the top of the tree, at the highest branches. Notice how the sun falls on it and look at the pattern of leaves. Look at everything on and around the tree that you can see while sitting silently in one place.


    Then, when you think you are ready, reach for your pen and paper and write down a question you would like to ask the tree. Maybe something like “How do you like birds living in your branches?” or “What does it feel like to have leaves?” Any question is good. Now, observe the tree for the answer. When you see animals hopping from branch to branch, does the branch shake slightly like it’s being tickled? Or do you hear the branches snapping, and leaves falling off, like it is too weak and uncomfortable to enjoy the animals on it. Notice the leaves. Do they gently sway and dance around in the breeze, or do they shudder and fall? Once you feel like the tree has given you its answer, write it down. Then ask it another question. The trees are full of knowledge, and even the oldest trees in the forest don’t mind sharing everything they know.



    When you’re done with your interview, thank the tree and give it a big hug. Conversations with trees get easier the more you have them, and when your camping it's a good time to practice.


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