by Zoe Weil

In my last post I wrote about Seton watching, a form of nature observation in which you sit quietly and observe a small window in the natural world for at least 20 minutes.

I’ve chosen to do this daily at our pond, and it’s been amazing what I have observed.

Over the course of the past two weeks, I’ve been watching a multitude of frogs and salamanders at every stage of development.

There are tiny, gilled newts, and full-grown salamanders, and red efts ready to emerge for their time in the woods.

There are tadpoles from half a dozen different species, all in various phases of their transformation into frogs. I’ve been watching them grow their rear legs, and then their front, and move onto land, and slowly reabsorb their tales.

I’ve listened to the trilling of tree frogs, the peeping of peepers, the honk of bullfrogs, and beeps of green frogs. My foot has been the way-station for an emerging frog.

I’ve noticed the way in which some species of tadpole are bold, while others quite shy and how the full-grown salamanders are the most skittish of all, ascending quickly for air, only to dive down to the depths as fast as they can.

I’ve watched huge water scorpions swim laboriously as they paddle through the water with skinny legs. I’ve watched hundreds of damselflies with their iridescent blue backs mate and dip their fertilized eggs into the water. My legs and arms have been the resting spot for many.

Mostly I don’t know much about what I’m observing, at least not in the scientific sense.

I don’t know the names of the different species of tadpole, nor the life cycle of the water scorpion.

I could find out of course, and I likely will; but I am experiencing so much just through observation, and I’m reluctant to turn to books quite yet. I want to discover what I am able to learn and know by carefully watching what’s around me.

I recommend Seton watching to everyone, but especially to children.

In our media-saturated, indoor- or sports field-focused world, we neglect to experience the magnificent natural world that sustains us all.

We do this at our peril, as a failure to cultivate our wonder often results in our failure to protect what we neither experience, nor understand, nor love.

As I’ve said before, please go outside; for yourself and the world.

And try sitting quietly in the same spot each day for 20-30 minutes, and notice what comes.



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