i’ve had to do a number of things to finally have a minute to sit and reflect on my last week away. but i now have that minute. my 6 day intensive course to become a certified California Naturalist (through UC Davis, via Columbia College) was INTENSE. turns out the hardest part of the whole thing was not the biting creatures or heat, as i had anticipated. it was the driest and strongest winds i’ve ever experienced on a crazy regular basis, plus random wildfires outside where we were but close enough to impact the air. i have never known what it was like to feel like my eyes could barely keep open because of the dryness of the wind and my sunscreen + bug spray running into all corners of my eyes and mouth. if i had known, i would have brought goggles. and would have worn them until it got dark. it was TOUGH. and, yet, it is all too fitting that Climate Change impacted our everyday lives in learning about Nature in the past and in the very scary present.
however, i did manage to learn a lot and have many magical moments in Nature. one of the things i learned is that crash-course learning is not my cup of tea. that, plus my teacher’s particular style of teaching, left me feeling like i hadn’t quite learned what i thought i would. with these learnings, i’m now leaning toward taking another CalNat course, hopefully in SF through City College in the spring. we shall see if i’m able to do that. i hope so.
but, i learned a lot about the High Sierras. i learned that i don’t hate Nature Journaling, and i grew to actually like drawing (especially if i can color it in). i learned that i need time to absorb and develop knowledge. i learned that i could quickly put together a Capstone Project. i re-learned that i can still get very nervous presenting in front of people i don’t know well. i learned that i still don’t like camping or dorm camping. i learned that i really would need to mix up different kinds of meals to eat should i ever be in a similar situation again. i learned that i was right in thinking i should’ve bought a folding stool for our nature journaling sessions. i learned that the Jeffrey Pine is my new favorite tree. i learned that on hot days, an outdoor shower under the stars is one of the best things in the world. i learned that i have a new-found love for the Sierras i didn’t quite have before. i learned how to walk carefully in Nature. i re-learned that i truly enjoy being alone in Nature. i learned that the Stanislaus Creek is my new favorite creek. i learned how to measure the height of a tree. i learned that beetles can swim. i re-learned that my happy temperature is very important in being able to learn and enjoy where i am.
i feel incredibly lucky to have had this experience. i was in a spectacular place every day. my “classroom” each day was remarkable – see my comments for each day, should you be so interested in those visuals. i got to listen to charismatic guest speakers just about every day. i was able to see and hear and know many more flora and fauna.
while i don’t feel as certified as i was expecting to feel, and was dissatisfied with the curriculum to a point and my teacher’s style, i’m glad i did it. it all seemed a bit daunting to do, but i persevered. i have many fantastic moments to cherish and learnings to take away. and, if i want more learnings in this area, i can do that.
one thing my teacher did say (as a quote from someone else she learned from) that i appreciated was this, “The more you look, the more you see.” and, this experience makes me want to keep looking more. so, that’s a gift i’ll happily take with me.