A Different Kind of Green Gift

Nature and Observations Notebook, collage, cattails, indian springsWhile a lot of folks look forward to this day after Thanksgiving, I am not that much into shopping for shopping’s sake (Go to Walmart at 5 a.m.? Isn’t that what the Internet’s for?). But November is a very full month for us. In addition to the usual full social calendar, school parties and activities, and church stuff, Grace’s birthday comes the week before Thanksgiving. So for us, the Thanksgiving weekend is three days of blessed rest.

Nature and Observations NotebookFor her birthday this year, we bought Grace a nature journal (The Nature and Observations Notebook, to be specific). Perhaps a bit girly in design, the notebook comes with pages for note taking (aka “observations”), rooms for sketching, envelopes for collecting specimens, and stationary for sending notes to your grandma.

I was under no illusions. The journal looks like a lot of fun, but kids are always missing the point of gifts—especially gifts we hope will deepen their understanding and lead to self-enrichment, etc. So I was actually surprised when Grace told us this was her favorite present. For two days she carried it with her wherever she went, even took it to bed at night.

A couple days later she had her first day off from school and she demanded we go to the nature center. Happy to oblige this surprise turn in our gift-giving experience, I took her to the nature center. There she sketched cattails, a garter snake, and a gray tree frog. The woman at the counter even came around to take a look at Grace’s notes. She practiced her spelling with CATTAILS and GARTER SNAKE, but I took dictation for the rest. I thought it would help her enjoy it a little more.

Since then I’ve had to stop the car to pick pine needle specimens, and stoop for any number of leaves and acorn caps. So as the whole country looks toward buying this holiday season, I will be humbly reconsidering all my expectations and keeping an eye out for a few more gifts that will open my daughter to the outdoors.



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