Photo: How to get to know nature

Be quiet and seek solitude. (Credit: Jennifer Rodriguez)

You love nature.

Together we even coined a term to describe what happens when we're not getting enough of it: "Treeprived".

For a fifth year, I ask you to immerse yourself in nature for 30 minutes a day for 30 days. We call it our 30×30 Nature Challenge. You might call it walking or biking to work, a lunch break outside, a walking meeting, a hike or time in the garden.

What else might you do for 30 minutes (minimum) a day? Well, there's a book for that: The Big Book of Nature Activities: A Year-Round Guide to Outdoor Learning, by Jacob Rodenburg and Drew Monkman. Here are 10 tips from the authors:

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Ten ways to know nature

  1. Roll over a log or rock and find a salamander (or centipede, millipede or beetle)!
  2. Observe butterflies in the wild — basking in the sun on gravel roads, atop a pile of dung, or near a puddle. To get a closer look, approach from behind, don't make sudden movements and avoid casting a shadow.
  3. Catch and release a dragonfly in the morning. They perch near wetlands or meadows and need to warm up.
  4. Sample wild edibles and learn how to forage. (Learn about wild edibles in Ontario and Alberta.) Maybe make spruce tip vinegar.
  5. Be quiet and seek solitude. Leave your smartphone at home (unless you're a citizen scientist). Draw on all of your senses.
  6. Star gaze. Light pollution is a side effect of the industrial revolution and our cities glow at night. Plan an escape to the darkness of the countryside, or plan a camping trip and stay up to look at the stars! Don't want to blow the kid's bedtime? Lay on your backs and watch the clouds.
  7. Be patient. Natural wonders take time to reveal themselves. Or, you could be stepping on them.
  8. Start a nature journal. Draw or write your experience. Suitable for all ages!
  9. Go outside rain or shine. "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing." ~ Alfred Wainwright
  10. Join a family nature club in your area. Most cities have them, or launch your own!

Where will you go to watch the night sky? Which nature club will you join? What did you spy on your last outing?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

April 26, 2016

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Jun 16, 2016
10:16 PM

Extraordinary finishing! And what a changeover for my play area! I am really glad that I chose them for the remodeling for my house. I would suggest commercial playground slide to everyone.

commercial playground slide

May 27, 2016
6:41 AM

Our first grandchild just arrived this week. We hope he has every experience possible that will help him appreciate the large world around him. Thanks for the tips.

May 16, 2016
11:48 AM

Excellent tips! My husband is more outdoorsy than I am, but o would love to win a copy of this book to maybe find some outdoor activities that I might be comfortable participating in with him and our children :)

May 16, 2016
10:34 AM

So excited for my 17th month old to experience his first 30x30 challenge!

May 16, 2016
9:16 AM

Thanks for the outdoors inspiration.

May 14, 2016
3:21 PM

I lead a workplace lunchtime walking club and try to encourage regular outdoor activities among my family, friends and co-workers. Spending time in nature is so good for your body and soul. I used to work in the field more as a biologist, but still aim for at least 30 mins in nature per day on most days.

Thanks so much for this chance to win The Big Book of Nature Activities and good luck everyone!

May 12, 2016
2:50 PM

One of my favourite things to do is go outside at night, shine a flashight towards the sky, and watch the bats criscross through the beam of light. I make a game of it and try to follow them with the light. Amazing creatures! I and my family used to have no problem enjoying nature when we lived out in the middle of the woods, but now that we are in the city we need to make more of an effort to do it. The 30×30 Nature Challenge is a great way to remind us to get out and enjoy nature in the city!

May 07, 2016
7:10 AM

Did you know Jasper Alberta is where i live and it is one of the dark sky preserve? We can star gaze almost any night and some many places to do so. Great article , thanks for the read. #30x30challenge #lovenature #explorejasper

May 06, 2016
8:12 PM

This is our first year participating in the 30x30 Challenge…I don’t know how we missed it the years before?! It’s so fantastic! Our little guy is coming up 3yrs at the end of the month, and he is loving all of our time outside! We would love to win this book! I’m always looking for new and fun things to do outdoors! We’ll definitely be participating in the 30x30 Challenge every year now!!

May 06, 2016
6:41 PM

Today, my children dropped pieces of muffin on the ground and we watched the ants swarm all over it.

May 06, 2016
5:54 PM

I enjoy outside time everyday. Altho its hard to enjoy that time outside when it feels like 100 below with the windchill. I dont own a car so i walk everywhere. My kids and i usually spend the weekend hiking our pathways and parks in town. It is our intent to take a walk-cation within the next couple years and hike from alberta to bc. Our goal is to eventually walk across canada. To really see this great nation we live in, to stop and smell the roses, to take life just a little slower so we dont miss out on something amazing. So far we have walked from one end to the other of calgary on the trans canada trail. Each step leads to anouther….

May 02, 2016
8:33 PM

Thanks so much for including our spruce tip vinegar recipe, we love this time of year — so many amazing new ingredients to work with!

May 02, 2016
2:58 PM

I would love to win this book. I have an 18 month old son and want to imbue in him my love for nature!

May 01, 2016
7:04 AM

This will be my family’s third year participating in the 30x30 Challenge. We usually spend a lot of time outdoors all year round. I love seeing how my kids’ experiences with nature change as they get older!

Apr 28, 2016
6:44 AM

I love the idea of a nature journal. I think I might start that with my 30x30challenge. Just go outside, sit and unwind, then observe, and after observing for a bit take some notes on what I see, think, feel, and notice.

Apr 28, 2016
6:44 AM

such great thoughts and ideas. the 30x30 challenge is a fantastic reminder that my soul needs to be in nature to survive…

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