Sounds in nature

Today I had planned to draw the first calendula blossoms in our vegetable garden. I headed out across the yard and as I rounded the corner of the house, I heard an unusual crackling sound. I stopped in my tracks, focused my hearing to figure out where the sound was coming from.

Crackling acacia seed pods

Stepping closer toward the source of the sound, I discovered- A-Ha! It’s the acacia trees. Clusters of dried, brown seed pods hanging at the ends of long branches shone in the bright sunlight against the pale blue-green feathery leaves.

The sun is out and its a warm today- about 71 degrees F. The heat must be making the pods crack open! My eyes scanned the clusters to see if I can actually see them snapping open.

The sound is so cool- crackling and popping from all directions from several 15-foot-tall trees. I stood there motionless and in awe, with journal under one arm and my folding chair in the other.

Following my curiosity

The “snap, crackle and pop” reminds me of crispy rice cereal when you put it in a bowl of milk! Oh okay, that’s it— nature is speaking to me. So, I’ve got to stop here instead of moving onto the veggie garden.

Setting up my folding chair beside the tree, I gathered a cluster of seedpods and a leaf to draw in my journal.

Here’s how I started my page:

Metadata (info about this session)- Date, time, location, weather. I like to put a weather icon.

Title– Today I knew right away it would be “Snap, Crackle and Pop”- so I wrote it in.

Main focus- I drew a leaf and seed cluster as the focal point. And I decided to place it in the center.

Its a good idea to include the leaf, especially if it’s something you need to identify later.

I’ll break down how I used words, pictures, and numbers to convey what I see in nature.


Starting with a pencil I placed the leaf on my page and outlined the general shape of the leaf.

Nature Note: Acacia leaves are really cool – they are a compound leaf (multiple leaflets) in a pinnate arrangement (like a feather or fern). And because each leaflet if further pinnate, it’s called bipinnate.

Complex subject? Keep it simple

There is a a lot of detail in the leaves, and I DID NOT want to sit and draw each one. I remember my intention for this page- to document the sounds and where I think it’s coming from- not a botanical illustration or detailed acacia portrait. So I decide to keep it simple.

To suggest the detail in all the leaves, I draw in detail on only 3 leaflets closest to me. I switch to pen, and to indicate depth, I draw darker lines and more detail on the two seed pods closest to me, leaving the ones farther back, less detailed.

Close up of seed pod and leaflet detail.

I added close up of one seed pod, showing from different angles. A cross section. I could have added a zoomed out view of the tree, but I didn’t leave enough space.

Add words

I notice, I wonder, it reminds me : Today, my words flow like a river in the space around the image. I list questions that arise during my session, without the need to find the answers right now. This helps to stimulate curiosity and wonder, and more ideas.


Today, I wrote “1x” to show that the drawing is life size and not enlarged.

I didn’t pull out my ruler- I think I ran out of time. But normally I would measure the seed pods- length, width, depth.

Counting: Quantifying: I could have counted how many pods per cluster, or how many seeds in a pod.

Distribution: Or I could have examined a sample of several clusters, counted how many of each–(pods with 1, 2, 3, 4, or more seeds) and tallied them.

I could have counted how many leaflets on a leaf, and counted them over several leaves..

Final touches

At the end, I decided to add a border (inspired by my daughter’s Waldorf Main Lesson books). I drew several seed pods to show variation in size and shape, and some lines to indicate the sound of popping.

And finally, I squeezed in a bowl of cereal– its easier to see this relationship when its a diagram, rather than words, so I put that there.

Now its your turn:

Where does nature take you when you follow your senses and your curiosity?

What subject in nature draws your attention today?

Share about your recent journal page in the comments!

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