Welcome to the Nature Language Project

We love nature, fear it, play in it – but we’re losing it, and we’re losing the language to speak of it.  This website is a place where you can join in a  community by reading stories, sharing a story, and commenting on stories about meaningful interactions with nature.  It’s also a place where you can contribute to research.  If you choose, your story will be used by a research group at the University of Washington interested in the ways people interact with nature. With this project we seek to identify and embrace diverse and deeply meaningful human experiences with nature. Join us in generating a Nature Language!

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Nature Language


Sample Accounts of Shared Nature Stories

Making a Fire

I have spent many nights sitting near a fire that I have made, feeling the warmth and safety of it. I think the ability to make a fire is an important one that we do not want to lose.

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Galapagos Sea Lions

In my initial moments in the wild waters with the wild sea lions of the Galapagos I felt a calm amazement. But then a fearfulness came crashing in on my calmness when a sea lion jumped out of…

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Tree-climbing! In the name of science!

Tiny bits of bark crumble under hand. Muscles tense with each effortful movement in the body’s ascent of a tree, hands grip around branches, limbs stretch, feet secure to gnarls, knots, or bark holes. Conquering, and clinging, when climbing a tree.

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Nature stories that have been shared by the community recently...

Advice from a snow laden tree »     (What's Your Response?)

During one of the recent “snow days” I ventured down a side trail near the park by my home.  Normally a gravel and dirt path it was a smooth white rippling bank of snow. I focused my attention on one of the birch trees by the creek, weighted down by ice, dripping lightly on me. I silently told it about my worries and how I wished I could just let them go. The tree “replied” that sometimes life freezes in hard times, making us brittle, weighing us down, bringing us to ground level. Yet, as soon as the cold weather passes the birds come back,…

Bringing a Loving Intention into Interactions with Nature »     (What's Your Response?)

Last quarter I stumbled upon a park of some sort. It wasn’t anything grand, and it didn’t have any children’s play equiptment or even any seating areas, but I loved it. I liked how the area felt real and natural. I also really enjoyed the markers on a few of the plants labeling what they were, because I think it is an important  thing to know when trying to ground yourself in a place. Anyway, I was there collecting sticks to use for an art project, where I intended to use sticks as drumsticks in a Shamanic drumming workshop. I made sure to interact with…

Aspen leaves »     (What's Your Response?)

It was an early autumn day. A mild breeze slid along my nylon jacket. Leaves had settled on the dusty path. They were compacted under my tired tennis shoes. I stopped at a grove of Aspen trees. I looked up to the very tips of the branches and then, to the quiet celebration of a hundred bright glimmerings in the Cerulean sky.

Blank Mtn Internal Wilderness »     (What's Your Response?)

In a brief moment of tragic, distinctive clarity within a muddled mind, the Blank Mtn series was created the day after September 15, 2012, in which Victoria, her scientist father, and her physical therapist sister Jenny hiked up and down Mount Baden-Powell in the San Gabriel Range, southern California. The unintended, subliminal goals of Blank Mtn were to explore the notion of “internal wilderness”–in which the physical outdoors can also be represented as a complex, internal cognitive experience–as well as show the blessed curses of being excessively creative, with one being sabotaged by the onslaught of her own thoughts. Apparently, there is a severe opportunity…

Never alone with nature »     (3 Responses.)

I’ve never truly been alone with nature. I’ve had multiple accounts of seemingly solitary interactions, but in the end I’m always with another person or group of people. Upon first realizing this fact I felt ashamed, but quickly came to understand the importance of what I had just learned about myself. It is exactly in the phrase “never truly been alone” that I find what I most value about nature. My interactions are not solitary. I am not alone in my desire to interact with nature. Nature, for me, has not only been a place of nurturing and growth but also of connecting with others….

Snow Day »     (What's Your Response?)

While it was snowing in Seattle in January of 2012, two friends of mine and I explored Volunteer Park. It was the first time I had ever seen a snowfall in a natural setting, and watching it drift in in waves as the sky grew dimmer was nothing short of enchanting. We ran across flat surfaces that had once been full of tiny mounds and depressions, threw snowballs and shook the powder off of thin tree-branches, raining cold dust upon unsuspecting walkers below. All the while, the leaves, the rocks, the very ground sparkled with otherworldly scintillation, as the sleeping Earth rested under our feet….

fall in love at first sight »     (What's Your Response?)

I was so impressed when I saw that pile of purple flowers blossoming brightly. So I couldn’t hold my strong impulse to smelling them, feeling them. I felt full of happiness.

Morning Meditation »     (What's Your Response?)

By Sean I love being engulfed in nature, to be surrounded by trees and rolling green hills without any evidence of human interference is my idea of a nature experience. For a few years now I have been rock climbing. Climbing is a great way to “play” with the natural environment. Mother Earth provides me with a fun-filled day and i make sure that she stays clean and healthy (Leave no trace). One of my most memorable climbing experiences was when I was in Joshua Tree. I woke up before the rest of my group and climbed up to the top of a nearby face,…

Bicycle joy »     (1 Response.)

By Luke Every morning when I’m riding my bicycle to work I enjoy a meanful relationship with the natural world. I feel the warmth of the sun and the cool dampness of the rain. The wind brings the smell of flowers, soil, grass, trees, animal manure and many more. I hear the birds singing, the chickens crowing, the dogs barking and children playing. I see my neighbors, I watch squirrels, I see the changing season in the trees. My senses are alive and active. I feel joy and a connection to the world around me that I cannot get while in a car.

look and touch »     (What's Your Response?)

All my life, my experiences in nature have been defined by an intense need to interact. If there is a stream nearby, I need to get closer to it, to touch it, or to be in it. I like to climb trees, and when I visit bogs, I need to lay down on the soft peat. Being outside isn’t like being in a museum where you appreciate with your eyes and ears only… I don’t really understand it, but I definitely need to experience it with all my senses.

A “REAL” Flying Squirrel »     (What's Your Response?)

By Bill Hello, Please view this slow motion video. http://vimeo.com/6746847″ Here is my story: I am a roofer and help homeowners solve their attic squirrel problems. They hire me to close holes chewed in fascia by squirrels. Occasionally the squirrels are aware that I am closing their attic access holes and become agitated. When the squirrels are in this agitated state, I witness them making spectacular jumps. I wondered how they got so much distance from their jumps. I may have found the answer. One day as I stepped out my backdoor, a squirrel crossed a few feet in front of me. Out of habit…

Cathedral »     (What's Your Response?)

By Carol Before dusk on a warm April evening I made the steep, short climb to the top of Mosquito Mountain, in Frankfort, Maine. There is an old quarry there, almost completely surrounded by steep granite ledge, rising 50 feet and more. The basin is full of water, and the ledges lined with small poplar and other softwoods, still bare in April. As I approached the quarry, I heard a shrill echo. Cresting the granite rise, I could hear uncountable numbers of peepers. Their calls echoed off the water and granite walls of the quarry, warm from the day’s sun and undisturbed by the faint…

Survival of the fittest. »     (What's Your Response?)

By Jean When I was in sub Saharan Africa for the first time I was in Camaroon in the true wild.  The vast majority of places that Americans go to in Africa are not really wild; the animals are used to humans and the interactions that humans are allowed to have with animals are strictly limited, so they aren’t threatened by humans.  They are used to cars and the sound of them, to the smell of humans and the fact that humans have never hurt or threatened them.  But where I was in Camaroon was really wild, and many of the animals had never seen…

Pushing the limit »     (What's Your Response?)

By Tom Consistently breaching natural limits is something of a hobby for most nature-oriented individuals.  With each excursion ‘into’ nature and back, I never fail to be impressed with my own willingness to push the envelope and my effort always yields the same result: a humbling.  Whether it’s the same trail faster, or a few more miles on a two-day camp trip, there is that moment of thought that enters the mind: what am I trying to do out here, exactly?  And just following that is the deepest appreciation for nature and the wonders currently decreasing in this world one can feel. Those instances of…

Backyard Nature »     (What's Your Response?)

By Mark When I was a toddler in 1950 my parents moved from a cramped New Jersey apartment to a new suburb on Long Island, NY. The house was on the site of a farm and had a large (from my perspective) apple and a maple tree right behind the house. One day when I was in the range of 4-6 years old, my mother was walking with me in the backyard and pointed at a nest high in the apple tree. Suddenly an American Robin flew out. It was almost as if her parental power had summoned the bird forth. For the rest of…

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