Sunday, September 2, 2012

Learning as Therapy

The day before classes were to begin I finally decided to attend the Master naturalist training through the University of Illinois extension office.  A very sweet friend, who was very determined to see me join, informed me that it was being offered through Ogle County, which is sooo much closer than, well, anywhere else.  I hemmed and hawed about the cost, but kept coming back to the fact that I was not working, was wasting away creatively and really had no other excuse not to.

I joined, I rushed to the first class and got there late because of an earlier appointment, and have not looked backward since.  I am an amateur naturalist; like I have written before I have my dear friend Laura to thank for that.  I have also been through the Master Gardener training so was no stranger to the general format of classes and certification.  In fact, the MG training was what really sparked my fire to get back to school and study horticulture, which eventually led to a pair of two-year degrees.  But imagine my delight at discovering that the majority of our training would take place in the field, on the spot, hands-on.  Yessss.  My kinda learning.  I also was given to understand on that very first evening that there was going to be some repetition in learning, for me, but that there was so much still to learn.  We will cover subjects that have intrigued me for years, and not being near a university that offers classes such as these toward a degree, I am eager to take advantage of the opportunity.

Really, I have said all of the above to say this:  these classes are coming along at a critical time for me, and I can already see how the program will benefit my state of mind.  The first night were all given "phenology" journals, with which we are to observe and record natural occurrences.  In the strictest sense of the word this would be things such as temperature, humidity, moon phase, rainfall, etc.  Our director, however, felt that term to me too restricting; what she wants from us is to really look at our personal outdoor environments.  What is happening with the flora and fauna?  What do we wonder about the situations?  How do they fit into the grand scheme of things?  And WHY?  I love it.  I have journaled in the past, and a blog is but a semi-private journal, right?  I love to be given the assignment to journal.  LOVE it.  It gives me purpose, and it also makes me accountable to look around, even when I am not journaling at the moment.

Observation, meditation, awareness, appreciation; what's not healing in these things?  My dark spell has left me atrophied on a number of levels, but the way I see it I have nowhere to go but up by getting back to studying the natural world..