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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Ferree Journal Quote

Natural Journaling

Nature Journaling…Allows us to slow down and see the natural world from a different perspective, while it

  • Offers a creative outlet for self-expression
  • Promotes relaxation and calmness
  • Enhances outdoor experiences
  • Builds positive connections with nature and people

What to Write

  • Observations
  • Chronology of events
  • What you feel
  • Use Writing prompts

Set the mood

  • Go outside or to favorite cozy indoor spot
  • Enhancements that help
  • Hearing - Soft nature sounds
  • Smell - Relaxing scent
  • Touch - Gentle breeze & cozy chair
  • Sight - Beautiful scenery
  • Taste – Favorite drink

To Inspire You…Nature Quotes

  • In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks. John Muir
  • Just let go…
  • Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Winter is an etching, Spring a watercolor, Summer an oil painting, and Autumn a mosaic of them all. Stanley Horowitz
  • The beauty of the natural world lies in the details. Natalie Angier
  • It's impossible to walk in the woods and be in a bad mood at the same time. Unknown
  • Common sense is a flower that doesn't grow in everyone's garden. Unknown
  • Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty. John Ruskin
  • It's funny how it's the simple things in life that mean the most. Unknown
  • If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies. Unknown
  • The water-lily starts and slides upon the level in little puffs of wind, Tho' anchor'd to the bottom. Tennyson
  • Never fear the shadows. They simple mean that there's a light somewhere nearby. Ruth E. Renkai
  • Autumn carries more gold in its pockets than any other seasons. Jim Bishop
  • I've never found time spent amongst nature to be a waste of time. Unknown
  • Just living is not enough…one must have sunshines, freedom, and a little flower. Hans Christian Andersen
  • Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. John Muir
  • Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. Lao Tzu
  • Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein
  • In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. Aristotle
  • The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Let's Try It

  • Choose a location to journal
  • Begin writing or select a prompt below
  • Sit quietly and journal for 20 minutes (Research shows that spending just 20 minutes in nature can promote health and well-being.

Writing Prompts to Try

  1. Write a letter from a leaf to the sun.
  2. I notice…I wonder…It reminds me of…
  3. Connect with your senses: what do I see, hear, smell, touch, taste
  4. Five things that caught your attention
  5. What's blooming?
  6. I'm grateful for…
  7. What is your favorite season? Why?
  8. What is the most beautiful place in the world?
  9. What's your life's theme song today? Sing it for your Journal in any key you'd like.
  10. Write down your bucket list.

Suggested websites (include book suggestions, curriculum, ideas, and much more)

Rhonda Ferree's journal entry examples

October 26, 2013
Another journal to document my life, but it does so much more than that. This is a way for me to slow down and think deeper, to renew my thoughts, and often to revive my soil.
With this journal I plan to try something new – to take my writing to another level. I'm going to use prompts from

April 10, 2015
As I walked along a song started to form in my head. It began with spring beauties singing tra-la-la-la-la-la-la, then the deeper voiced and more mature mayapples strummed a pom-pom-pom-pom, birds trilled soprano notes above, and as the forest chorus continued to build the forest softly began to hum this tune…

  • Welcome to my home, where you are never alone.
  • Breath deep – slow down
  • Put away your sense of time
  • Let your forest friends wash away aches and pains.
  • Be free and live in peace while amongst us.
  • Feel the strength of the earth grounding you.
  • Feel the wind cleansing your soul.
  • Feel the sun's warmth giving you strength.
  • Embrace the spirit of this place.
  • Internalize it deep within your being.
  • Take it with you as you go, cleansed and ready to face the outside world once again.
  • But remember your forest friends are always here when you need us.

March 10, 2008
The drive started out bright and sunny. Soon skies darkened to a calypso blue.
It would seem that the drive along the Illinois River near Henry would be gloomy.
Then the bark of the sycamore shown through like an ivory tower along the river banks.
Nature's beauty on Earth illuminates regardless of the sunless, cloud covered sky.

October 23, 2015
Is this paradise?
Everything at this resort is so perfectly manicured. It is artificial but in many ways what we think paradise looks like. Yet, is this paradise? I wonder if the perception of paradise has changed over time and if it has gotten better or worse.
From an environmental viewpoint this is really not paradise. In fact this is a very odd place to hold a master naturalist conference. The only way they can achieve this look is with lots of inputs and non-sustainable practices, such as lots of water, irrigation, pool chemicals, gas powered equipment, etc. I saw the result of these inputs immediately when I walked across the road from the hotel toward the lake. The unirrigated open field was mostly sand and rock with a few wisps of gray green vegetation.
So does it take green vegetation to be considered paradise? Certainly we know that the color green is relaxing and calming to humans. In that sense it is needed to be paradise, yet there are many shades of green.
When I close my eyes and dream, my view of paradise is more natural. I think of the many beautiful natural places I've been. Wild flamingos in the Mexican Yucatan just down a dirt road from a pristine sand beach that is void of any human intervention or activity - just lots of shells.
But is paradise always tropical? To me the Illinois River is a paradise steeped with plants, animals, history, and culture. I picture my dad and me in a Jon boat anchored in mud lake ditch watching a doe and fawn come to the rivers edge to drink, while birds fly around us, and the water moves slowly south.
There is a release that comes from nature, when we truly experience the spirit of the wilds. Even now as I sit by this pool and listen to the man made waterfall I finally feel the tension leave my body. The tension of a long travel day and everyday struggles. I feel the spirit around me in the stability of the earth, in the strength of the Suns warm rays, in the soothing water, and in the cleansing air.
But I don't really feel natures spirit here, which I call the green man. I wonder if the hedge clippers, mowers, and blowers have caged him within the tight branches of sheared hedges and wired trees. He seems scared to emerge here for fear of being cut down.
So maybe that is what it takes for me to be in paradise. The green man must be free to send out waves of good and positive vibes to everything around him. I feel the green man most when I am at one with nature. And, I get that most in my own back yard. Although I have a large mostly man made landscape, I do use natural design style and maintenance where plants are allowed to mature on their own.
My paradise is a place that contains all of these ingredients and I have all that at home: tropicals, green vegetation, water, culture, and our own history. There is pride in what we have accomplished and love in the people that share the space. Hardscape, plants, and the elements combine to create my own little paradise right at home.
So, paradise might not be a place at all. It is a state of mind. The place where we feel happy, free, and at peace. is fun to visit places like this from time to time.

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