Students may choose to write a scientific description or a poem or even a personal narrative. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of my first book, Life Without Light. It’s based on an experience I had at a Collins Lake in Scotia, NY, when I was about 20 years old.
“As the morning passes, clouds meander across the bright blue sky. The shape of each is mirrored on the calm surface of the water below. Suddenly, the sky darkens as the sun’s light is momentarily blocked out by the body of a huge, awkwardly beautiful bird flying overhead. The lanky bird glides gracefully above the lake, slowly flapping its massive wings and dragging its long, stick-like legs behind.
“From high above, the great blue heron surveys the lake for the perfect fishing spots. It watches for fish surfacing in search of their morning meal of insects. The heron is looking for a breakfast of its own.
“The great bird lands in a small cove and silently wades through the shallow water. When it spots a potential victim, the heron extends its folded neck and stabs the unsuspecting fish with its long, spear-like bill. The bird devours its catch quickly.”
I'll never forget the dark, cool shadow that mighty bird cast as it cruised over the lake. One of the reasons it’s burned into my memory is because I recorded it on the spot in my nature journal.