An Alternative New Year’s Resolution
If you’re still looking for a New Year’s resolution, then look no further! I found 2018 to be an extremely stressful year, which affected my mental well-being in many ways. As a result, I have set out to be more mindful in 2019, in an attempt to make it a much more peaceful year.
I wanted my New Year’s resolution to be more stimulating than daily meditation and more realistic than daily gym sessions. After a lot of pondering, I landed on keeping a nature diary. I hoped it would encourage me to go outside, observe the world, and take note of the small pleasures in life. Decision made, the resolution began this January, and I would encourage anyone else dealing with mental health problems or stress to give it a go!
Noting the little things
Some of my January entries have been as simple as ‘cherry blossom! Hurrah!’ and ‘small plants growing on a stone wall.’ These things might seem very small, but they brought me joy, so they deserve a place in the diary.
I have not given myself any strict regime of making entries every day; I simply want it to be a relaxing exercise that I contribute to as and when I see things that inspire me. I am also taking the time to collect natural treasures, such as a leaf skeleton and a dead head of hydrangea. Although I won’t keep these things for long, it brings nature inside and allows me to conduct some still life drawings as journal entries.
Catkins: A Love Story
One of my favourite things to spot at this time of year is the catkin. Fluffy and enchanting, they have always been a favourite of mine (perhaps as a result of a beloved children’s book about a cat of the same name) and this January has been brilliant for them.
Seeking out trips to add variation to my journal has been another positive outcome of the resolution so far. This month I visited National Trust’s Stourhead in Wiltshire, where there was a wealth of interest.
Some of the Rhododendrons were in flower very early, and I was able to collect a couple of fallen blooms. The snowdrops were almost out, and intricate alpine plants and fungi covered the gardens’ grottos. A view across the lake including a Cornus Midwinter Fire was particularly memorable.
I’ve found it amazing how much more I have noticed everyday wildlife now that I have been looking for it. This month’s highlights have included a close encounter with a very tame urban fox and watching silently as a female blackbird rooted around for worms on a woodland walk in Portishead.
Sadly, I didn’t capture these moments on camera, but writing them down in my journal encourages me to remember them. In some instances, it is better to have a memory than a photograph.
Those are my January highlights! What have yours been? Please share them with me by tagging @thebristolbotanist.