Journal into Winter

Great changes are happening all around us. Winter comes closer with every day. Why not keep a journal this year to help you see winter as it comes? Writing and drawing can sharpen your observation skills and enrich your life.

Get a notebook so that you can write down and draw what you see as summer is replaced by fall and winter. When you notice some new clue that winter is coming, write down the date and what you observed. Try to use good adjectives that tell just how things look, sound, or smell. Tell what it reminds you of, what it is like. Use drawings if they help explain what has changed or what is new. Don't worry if your drawing isn't as pretty as you like. Just try to draw it well enough that it helps you remember what you saw.

Now, pay attention to changes as they happen. Write something every day, even if you have to write that you didn't notice any new signs of fall or winter. Sometimes summer will seem to be winning, but it never does.

As October begins, there are not as many hours of daylight as there were in midsummer. As the month goes on, keep track of when the sun rises in the morning and sets at night. Use your own observations or the data found in an almanac or on the weather page of a newspaper. A page or two of your journal could be a chart of sunrise and sunset times. How many minutes of daylight do we lose by the end of the month? 

Keep a record of the daily high and low temperatures. What is the coldest temperature for the month? What date was it on?

Make notes about birds. When do you stop seeing robins in your neighborhood? When do you see big flocks of blackbirds flying over? When do you notice flocks of geese flying high overhead in Vs? As the days shorten to what they were like back in the spring, some birds sing little bits of their songs again. These are called whisper songs. One of my favorite is the White-throated Sparrow. Listen for it. Do you hear it? When?

Watch what other animals do. When do the calls of evening insects stop? How late in the fall do you still see woodchucks along the roadsides? When do you start seeing a lot of deer if you are riding around in the evening?

When do you notice tree leaves changing color? Which trees change color first? When do trees begin to lose their leaves? What trees lose their leaves first? What trees lose their leaves last? When do people stop mowing their lawns? When do they start raking leaves?

When is the first frost? When is the last thunderstorm? When does the ground freeze? When is the first snow flurry? When does snow first stay on the ground for a little while? When do you first see ice on a puddle?

Keep track of how people dress for the outdoors. When do they start wearing hats and gloves? When do people first wear heavy coats and jackets?

For more ideas of what to look for each season, see Phenology, which is the study of seasonal changes. Keep your eyes and ears open to really see the seasons change!
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